One night this past week, I ate dinner with three former colleagues of mine who happen to also be three of my closest friends. We were reminiscing about the days when we worked together and felt close bonds with those who worked along side us.
As we ate salads and shared appetizers, we remembered the event that had launched our first true connections with our co-workers and management. Many years ago, we had an innovative boss who was looking for a place for a business conference, and she came across the Whitestone Country Inn. I was appointed to make arrangements for the conference/retreat, and was able rent all of the guest rooms and the conference areas in the Farmhouse. For two days and one night, our boss and our staff enjoyed planning our year and solidifying our goals and objectives in a beautiful, comfortable setting. As we worked to solve potential problems, and brainstormed ways to maximize our efforts in the coming year, we found ourselves connecting with each other in new ways, and discovering strengths in one another. During free time, we drank coffee and visited, or walked the grounds beside the lake, and got to know each other as individuals. We laughed, ate, and worked together, and returned to work the next week with an energy and focus that served us well in the coming year. Our boss continued to have yearly one-day working retreats with us, and there is no doubt that those years were marked by more enthusiasm and accomplishment than any since that time.
As our dinners arrived, we remembered with regret that with the transfer of that boss, the conferences ended, and the emphasis on collaborative effort and shared goals began to unravel. Over time, we lost a voice in determining the objectives of our profession, and the lack of collaboration resulted in the slow but sure breakdown of solidarity in our work staff. We missed “the good old days”.
I shared with my friends that Whitestone still hosts conferences and retreats like that one, and that I hope other groups are finding what we did as we met there. I also told them that the Whitestone newsletter boasts a special Girls’ Night Out Package, where we four and two more friends could spend time together on a much smaller (and less professional) scale. When I described the 1000 ft. suite with small adjoining bedrooms, and the full breakfast included for all six of us, at only $280.00, they started suggesting other friends to ask. Within minutes, we were so excited about our new plans that in celebration, we ditched our diets and ordered dessert.
by: Valerie Bryant Bennett