Executive Coach Too Expensive? Try This One – in a Box
An at-home retreat that could transform your outlook
Most people I know would love to have an executive coach. Many founders seek out coaches, because they're committed to growing themselves as leaders as their company grows and evolves. And their executives may want a coach to help them get promoted, navigate work politics, develop a certain leadership skill, or manage the relationship between their personal and professional lives. I'd say most people in our industry want help becoming a better version of themselves, especially in these very difficult times.
But founders often struggle to offer coaches to their employees. Coaches often charge hundreds of dollars an hour and require retainers of thousands of dollars per month, for just one client. Founders sometimes bring in coaches to work with their entire executive team as a group, or they may subscribe to a service like BetterUp. But even those solutions can still be expensive.
I think I found the answer. When I learned this winter that the coaches at Numina, with whom I've worked for years, had created an at-home personal transformation retreat, I realized that they may have cracked the nut of bringing coaching to millions of people around the world. And I decided to try it out. My husband jumped right in, too.
Over the holidays, we spent three hours in this guided retreat, camped out in our at-home office, with our nanny and kid playing in the living room. Those three hours were emotionally intense. We reflected, day-dreamed, laughed, cried, hugged, and emerged with a greater understanding of ourselves, our aspirations, and the ways we were holding ourselves back. The retreat wasn't designed specifically for couples at all; we each completed the exercises, side by side. But it was a wonderful experience to have together.
It's remarkable that an unremarkable white box with five drawers could have created such a memorable experience. Each drawer contains an exercise. At a high level, the exercises are:
Life Vision: create a vision of your life today and as you want it to be, and what's in the way.
Life Walk: recall the most impactful events in your life and how they've affected you.
Big Want: define what matters to you; similar to a BHAG.
Big Risk: explore what's preventing you from achieving your Big Want.
Vision Walk: lay out a roadmap for the rest of your life.
It's difficult to capture in a few sentences how much this retreat affected each of us, but I'll jot down a few learnings I had that you might also find if you do the retreat.
The first time I did a retreat in this format, it was an in-person version, led by a Numina coach, years ago. I was filled with emotion during the Life Walk. I discovered that I had buried painful childhood memories; allowing them to come to the surface felt like a volcanic eruption. But when I did the retreat this second time, at home, I learned that I had come to terms with these difficult moments in my life. Thinking about them wasn't painful anymore. I was able to see my life in a more balanced way, with beauty across light and dark patches, and express gratitude for the ways that my life had prepared me for this present moment.
During the Big Want exercise, I expected to write down the concrete goals that I'm often thinking about. I was surprised to find myself gravitating instead toward a certain feeling, a state of mind and body that I aspired to. Perhaps I unintentionally reminded myself that no one is keeping score for your life; the specificity of tangible achievements probably outweighs their value.
The Big Risk section was a good reminder that at the root of every obstacle in life is some deeper psychological blocker that needs to be uncovered and tended to.
If you're grimacing at all this, I'd say: lean into that discomfort. It's probably a sign that this retreat could help you grow, as it helped me.
My husband and I now plan to do this at-home retreat annually, as an input into our annual planning process for our family. (We are proud nerds.) And since it's still somewhat close to the start of 2022, I think there's still time for others to kickstart their year with the better self-understanding and more expansive outlook that this retreat inspires.
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