Retreating to Advance: A Reflective Week at Treebird

“Habit rules the unreflecting herd.” 
― William Wordsworth

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 
― Søren Kierkegaard

January is good for a few things. The smell of cold. Fires. Dutch-oven stews. And, of course, retreats.

The first-ever Treebird Retreat took place in mid-January, a time when a new year brought on good intentions and called for good reckoning. We came together not just to reflect, but to act more intentionally, to understand more fully, to progress more mindfully. So after a week of earnest contemplation mixed with some serious fun—is there anything more fun than adorning a giant tree branch with fabric, yarn, and assorted sparkling things?—we’re all the more ready to do the work that fulfills us and keeps our clients happy.



Day One: Enneagram-mania

Here’s the thing about the Enneagram—if you dip one toe into this fascinating personality assessment, you’re going to be fully submerged in no time. The Enneagram posits that everyone emerges from childhood with one of nine types dominating their personality, with inborn temperament and other pre-natal factors being the main determinants of our type. Once we understand our basic type—and our fears and desires, our proclivities, our motivations, and our innate responses to situations—then we grow not only in self-awareness, but we figure out how to better work with other types and do our best work.

Here’s a quick rundown of the 9 types, with a corresponding Harry Potter character.  

Type 1—the Reformer—Hermione
Type 2—the Helper—Molly Weasley
Type 3—the Achiever—Gilderoy Lockhart
Type 4—the Individualist—Luna Lovegood
Type 5—the Investigator—Snape
Type 6—the Loyalist—Ron
Type 7—the Enthusiast—Fred and George Weasley
Type 8—the Challenger—Harry
Type 9—the Peacemaker—Dumbledore

All of this means something, you know. And Treebird has an eclectic mix of types all bringing different strengths and personalities to the problem-solving table.  


Day Two: the Wisdom of Type A

Treebird friend, client, collaborator, and inspiration Allison Palestrini of Type A DevComm served as expert-of-the-day, leading the ‘birds through two engaging discussions on the arts of time management and small talk.

Allison led the team through a SWOT analysis of each person—made all the more interesting after Monday’s Enneagram discussion—and also shared strategies and tactics that included Eat the Frog prioritization (if you have a frog to eat today, it’s not going to be any tastier at 4pm than it is at 9am—though it sure will distract you those many hours you haven’t eaten it), the 4 Ds of effective time management (Delete, Delegate, Date, and Do), and 10 tips that work on a daily basis. She then parlayed that discussion into how to succeed at small talk without really trying, which proved incredibly helpful as we ‘birds find ourselves at lots of events, galas, mixers, and the like, all of which require not just looking fly, but saying things that aren’t vapid. Mission accomplished!


Day Three: A Walk in the Woods

After so much information-intake during days one and two, we needed time to process—plus some fresh air. So we strolled from Whittier Mill Village along a woodsy trail that ended on a bluff overlooking the lovely—and swollen—Chattahoochee River. We kept discussing Enneagram—because it’s impossible not to!—and also brainstormed about how it applies to our team dynamic and our client relations. On the way back, we found a perfectly imperfect branch that became the afternoon’s art project.

photo by Terry May

photo by Terry May

Because the tree of our company name is our anchor, our root, we wanted to create a symbolically meaningful representation to hang in our new office. So every ‘bird took to crafting various branches in her own way, whether by weaving or stitching or gluing or feathering. We’ll post the result—it’s still a work in progress—as soon as it’s ready for public consumption.

Day Four: Breath in, Breath out

What’s a 2016 retreat without smoothies and yoga? A 1980s retreat, that’s what. On the fourth day, we invited nutritionist and health coach Sarah Rossi to lead us through a morning of delicious smoothies, calming—and challenging—yoga, and principles to apply that help us align self with work. Again, you see how the Enneagram plays into all of this! Sarah provided the perfect break—if you can call all that holding of poses a break—to our mental exertion.

Day Five: Voice of Treebird

Editorial Director Extraordinaire—who totally isn’t writing this blog—led the rest of the team through the Voice of Treebird. We hope you continue to find our writing as engaging as we think it is—and be on the lookout for blogs throughout the year by various ‘birds. Exciting stuff!

So as the days grow longer, as the world continues to tilt and turn and spin and evaporate before our very eyes, as this inexorable march we call life traipses on, we took a week to reflect. To learn. To grow. And to better serve our own callings, and the callings of the clients who entrust us with their businesses.

Happy new year, everyone. 

Patrick Kelly