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  • Cory McGowan

Personal Retreat in Minakami

Slow down, create space, and disconnect to reconnect.

These will be the core themes as I host one of my leadership coaching clients for a personal retreat in Minakami in a couple of days.

We'll start the slowing down right when he arrives at Jomokogen (soon to be renamed Minakami!) station from the very fast city of Tokyo, stepping off of the very fast bullet train, by spending some time at a nice spot in the station. I'll invite him to sit with the inquiry, "What did it take for you to get here today?". Slowing down to appreciate who he is choosing into being in a way that enabled him to create this unique opportunity for himself.

We'll come to my office, which I had designed and built just for this purpose - to sit with individual clients as a slow transition before moving into the deeper wilds of Minakami. We'll go over the results of the Growth Zone™ discovery assessment we did for his team that will help him to see where they are at with psychological safety and motivational drive, and which will provide direction for where he may want to take his leadership development over our six month coaching engagement. He will also get to meet my family, to make a real connection between his investment in partnering with me and who gets to benefit from that on my side.


By early evening, we will head slowly to the beautiful Doai Village venue (pictured below), where we will spend some time enjoying a bbq together, and starting to create the space he wants for himself. We'll start the disconnection process as well as I enroll him in not using his devices or checking messages (which he will have already informed his team, etc. about prior to coming). We'll start to go over the project framework I have for him that will be the basis of the coaching engagement, and he'll get to think on that as he enjoys the rest of the evening and night alone - sauna, hot springs, sleeping in a comfortable, quiet, and wild place.


The next morning will be more time on his own to start to fill out the project framework - serenaded by the sounds of nature and with completely unfamiliar surroundings to inspire his creativity. What does he want to create through the coaching? How will we measure if he has successfully created that (or not)? What is a vision for this that is so compelling it will pull him through the inevitable discomfort that transformation invites? What will he use as key milestones along the way that we can check in on in our coaching sessions?


I'll come to meet him mid-morning, and we'll spend a little time going over what he has been working on, and then we'll head into the woods. Rather than the guided adventures available through my partners here, he has chosen down time, so it will be a gentle hike around the base of Mt. Tanigawadake, a sort of sacred place as the mountain that has claimed more lives than any other in the world - there are literally the souls of hundreds of adventurers there.

With the space and disconnection then comes the reconnection to nature and thereby to self. What is it that he truly wants to reconnect with to shape his journey as a leader? What is the transformation that's possible in this process, even if he may not know the exact path there yet? We'll spend time in silence in the woods, with invitations to see what he notices both around him and in himself.


The rest of his visit will be spent in firming up his project plan so he has the finished product as his output from the retreat. We'll eat lunch in town to support local business, and by early afternoon, he'll be back to Tokyo, to his family, and to his leadership role, perhaps unchanged on the outside, but certainly a different man (meaning even more himself) on the inside.


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