As I am packing and preparing for the Maine 2017 Doyenne Connections retreat, I am reminded of a conversation that I had in the planning stages of this event. Someone asked if we would entertain the idea of having a speaker at dinner. My reply? “No, no speakers.” Now in a world where retreats and conferences are supported by sponsors, this could be a tenuous position to take – but I have my reasons.
There is a way in which a Doyenne Connections event is fundamentally different from educational or even inspirational events. We are not coming to gather and learn from an expert or be inspired by one charismatic keynote. We are coming to connect. Every single participant is an expert and each comes equally equipped with knowledge to share and eager to learn.
It takes one part trust and one part bravery to cast aside the need for structured goals and agendas – but we are all better for it in the end. I will learn things this weekend that I never anticipated learning, and other women will have experiences that will inform and shape their work life in ways they had not previously imagined. Letting the structure and topics hang a little loose allows for a truly collaborative environment to flourish.
When I say we have no speaker, really what I am saying is that we will have 10. Ten dinner guests, each successful, inspiring and courageous. When we all come together & share our stories over dinner – the sum is greater than the parts. The content will go far beyond what you would get if you had one conference with each of us presenting a session. In addition to that, relationships will be fostered and strengthened.
Sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself, and those in attendance is to step back and allow the magic to happen.