Hi. This is Darla LeDoux, founder of Aligned Entrepreneurs and creator of Retreat and Grow Rich. Today’s topic is how to get buy-in at the beginning of a retreat. As you may know, I teach entrepreneurs on a mission how to create multiple six-figure businesses, that are simple and streamlined through the strategy of hosting small retreats. Obviously, there’s a lot I can share about hosting retreats, but one of the most important things is knowing, how do you start your retreat to get the buy-in that you want in the room?
In order to create raving fans, who have created deep transformation through their work with you, you really need to establish buy-in right from the start. That means you are getting their permission for you to go deep, for you to coach them, for you to call them into a greater version of themselves, to help them embrace the information you teach, and essentially be better clients, and get greater results in the world. To do that, there are three things I recommend at the beginning of your retreat. One is intention setting. The second is sharing your story vulnerably, and the third is, creating some ground rules for how the retreat will go.
I’m going to talk about that third point today. What are the ground rules for creating a safe space of transformation in your retreat? I’m going to give you some ideas on this. It really depends on you and your style. You’re going to want to create these and have an idea of them for yourself, and here’s the key that really has you get buy-in in a way that just presenting your rules doesn’t necessarily do. That is, you are going to co-create within the room the ground rules for how you play during your retreat.
At my recent retreat, called Retreat and Grow Rich Live, we created a set of ground rules. We opened it up. This was a pretty high level group, so if you’ve got a group of people who are maybe newer to attending retreats, or to the world of transformation, you might provide more of the guidelines. This was an advanced group, and we really co-created them together. I want to share with you the exact words that we created to create a safe container for transformation, for information to be transferred, and for people to really grow, because when the rubber meets the road, for us to truly grow, we have to step out of our old comfort zone and into a new way of being. This is why retreats are so magical, but if we’re not willing to do that, if we’re clinging to our old ways, we won’t really be able to grow. We’ve got to make it safe.
Here we go. We had one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten guidelines. You don’t always need ten. It could be like four or five. Like I said, ambitious group, right? I’m actually going to read it right from a picture of the flip chart, just so you know what I’m doing here. The first is, “Be transparent.” Be transparent. That means say what you’re actually thinking, not holding anything back or trying to hide anything, being transparent.
The second is a big one that you’re going to want in all of your retreats, and that is confidentiality. Here’s how we think about confidentiality, is, what happens in the room stays in the room. You’re individually welcome to talk about your own experience with other people, right? That’s great for referrals, for example, but there’s no conveying other people’s experience whatsoever. We just don’t know how people could put the pieces together around that, or how that will limit the way someone feels free to express in the room, so confidentiality is one your people will generally come up with on their own, but if not, you want to have that in your pocket, right?
Another guideline they created was sharing from a space of abundance. This is a business group, a mastermind. We wanted to establish that nobody was going to hold back their ideas for fear that someone else would steal them, so setting that ground rule that, “Hey, we know ideas are abundant, and it’s really about executing them, and we trust one another to honor each other’s ideas from that space.” Another one, I love this one, have fun. A lot of times, we can get in a room, and if we’re working on anything that’s going to grow our business, or our life, or our health, or whatever, we can get really serious and significant. Just remembering that we’re choosing to be here, and keeping it fun and light, can really make an impact.
The next is risk. Again, they come up with this. I probably wouldn’t have thought of this one, but they came up with this idea of risking, and trying things differently, which is perfect with the intention of the retreat, because a lot of the exercises had to do with them leading the room, practicing things in front of the room, and so risking, and trying different things, and showing up differently, was huge for them to get the results. I love that one, and people did take a lot of risks. This next one, one person particularly brought forward, through tears, I might add, which is the statement that emotions are okay. Really for her, it was important to be in a room where it felt like it was okay to be emotional, and that really opened things up for the whole room right from the beginning, that we didn’t have to try to hide how we were feeling.
The next was, be coachable. Be coachable. This is one I highly recommend that you use in every retreat as well, and here’s why. You’re going to have to teach people what it means to be coachable. Being coachable isn’t about automatically doing what other people tell you to do, because trusting yourself and finding your voice is so important, right? Being coachable has to do with being willing to try it on, and literally on here, it says, “Try it on.” If someone’s giving you advice, maybe you tried it before, and maybe it didn’t go that well, but maybe there’s something in the way you did it before that made it not work, but the strategy is actually really great, so try it on. If you are the opposite of coachable, it’s resistant, right? If you’re digging your heels in and resisting what’s coming at you, it’s hard for you to grow in a new direction.
Here’s what’s amazing about having everyone agree to be coachable up front, if you stop and think about it. Essentially, they’re giving you permission to coach them, to give them other ways of thinking about things, and trying things on, and literally, I always post this flip chart on the wall so that if anybody in any moment chooses not to be coachable, we can just go back to remind, “Hey, of these guidelines, which one do you think you’re maybe not following right now?” Right? It’s an open dialogue about what this means, right up front, so you can give some examples.
Another guideline. I love this one that came up, and the word for it is “creation,” and the idea we captured was, play with it. This is the idea that we actually create our own experience, that nothing is happening to us, but we’re actually creating what’s happening in the room. It’s a rare experience, and I teach a lot of this in my in-depth training, but it’s a rare experience where you can talk with someone. Let’s say there’s a conflict that arises in the room, or difference of opinion, where you’re in a place where you can actually say, “You know, I’m creating this experience. I wonder why I feel this way about you, or I wonder why you’re triggering me, or I wonder why this is upsetting me, or I wonder why my plane was late. I wonder why I chose that experience.”
I have a client whose flight was delayed for her very first retreat with me, and it was so fascinating what it helped to reveal over the course of the retreat. If you don’t own that some part of you is creating your experience of life, then it’s really hard to get to the root of things, so that can be a good one that you can use. Another one was, advice when asked. This was interesting. A lot of times, someone will share something in a retreat and everyone in the room is going to want to rescue, or save them, or give them advice about something. This is one of the great things about a group experience, is you’re getting different perspectives in the room. It’s only an issue when people are giving you unsolicited advice. Who’s had that experience?
I remember I twisted my ankle at an event once, and I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and gave me unsolicited advice about what I should do to heal, without permission, without checking in with me to see where I was at, and it was fascinating. It doesn’t serve anyone. It’s actually giving your substance away, so I love this one. Advice when needed, or when asked, specifically when asked. Lastly, compassion, and I think that one speaks for itself, but to really have compassion for another person’s experience. Everybody is behaving, this is a belief I choose, is behaving 100% normally and appropriately given their context for life, so bringing that sense of compassion can make a really big difference.
I’d love for you to think about, what would be some ground rules or guidelines that you would want when you’re hosting your retreat? What are some conditions for playing the game that you would want to bring forward? I’d love to hear about them. Post your thoughts and ideas below, and any that you heard here that you want to steal for your own retreat. This is Darla LeDoux, of Aligned Entrepreneurs, and I look forward to hearing about your first retreat very soon.


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