Gearing Up for “Ideas That Move”

There are some ideas whose time simply have come. Leadership parity, pay equity, access to affordable healthcare, things like this. Then there are those ideas in our own life that we’d like to move past the idea stage and make happen.

ITM group

ITM group

After five years in the startup community in Boston, hearing many people—women especially—talk about their “would be” ideas for businesses or projects (if only there was enough X, Y, Z…) I knew something needed to shift about how we go about executing our ideas in the first place. Something was holding us back, and it wasn’t just this notion that if we had startup capital or all the time/freedom in the world, we could do anything.

The first Ideas That Move retreat we ran (with Bollywood dance instructor and leadership expert, Erica Dhawan) was in Hartland, Vermont at an old B&B with the one of the oldest maples in New England in the backyard, a huge indoor meeting space (where we danced/worked out in the morning), a beautiful dining room where we shared a meal every evening, and alpacas along the fence from the neighbor farm (the alpacas went over big).

The second retreat (with yoga instructor and straight up play scientist, Ellen Lempereur Greaves) was at The Highland Center Lodge in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in the heart of the White Mountains. Surrounded by gorgeous views and open fields, we did yoga in the morning and hashed our plans out in the main meeting area in the afternoons. In the evenings, we took workshops with a fitness coach to unwind, get aligned, and practice embodiment. In other words, practice taking care of ourselves, getting physically behind our ideas, not just intellectually behind them.

What I remember most about both retreats are these experiential things. The beauty of each place; the new friendships, good conversations, and laughter; the way we spent our time… not so much the specifics. Because, while the specifics were important, what was more important was that we all had taken this time away to dedicate ourselves to our craft, business, or project and share our work, knowing this would help us move our work along.

Sharing our work isn’t always easy. At each Ideas That Move retreat, some people were more open about their work than others. But we all listened to each other, asked good questions, laughed big laughs. For those of who needed to work for the most of the day or rest, there were quiet rooms. For those of us who wanted to hike or explore, there were trails.

We call Ideas That Move a retreat, because hey, who doesn’t need a retreat? But it’s really a retreat, workshop, think tank, participatory leadership training, and celebration all in one. And let’s talk about the frame we use for moving ideas to action just for a minute because this is where it starts to get really exciting:

Intention, Attention, Action:

  • What is your intention for your current/ongoing project now (inside or outside of your paid work/formal job) or simply your idea, whatever it may be?

  • What do you need to be attentive to in service of this intention?

  • Knowing these things now, how might you work on moving your idea to action?

We consider these questions alone and together. And while there is much more to the weekend—we bring in knowledge and tools from creativity studies, group and organizational dynamics research, systems thinking, writing, yoga, and more—this is the overarching framework we work with.

As simple as it is, it’s fairly powerful when you get 8-20 women of vastly different backgrounds and interests, all thinking with each other along these lines.

This November, Ellen and I are running our third Ideas That Move retreat, again at Bretton Woods, this time with the Alumnae Association of Smith College, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Join us if you want to both get more serious about your work and have more lightness (joy!) around it, too, while connecting with a new group of ambitious, accomplished women creatives at all stages of their careers.

Who should come? At past retreats, participants have been ages 26 to 62. We’ve had policy analysts, journalists, consultants, academics, moms, entrepreneurs, artists, social workers, teachers, social justice activists, people at career transitions… you get the idea. Read testimonials here.

Learn more or register. Scholarships are available!

Read more posts by Lex Schroeder.

About the Author

Lex Schroeder is a writer and speaker on gender equity, systems change, and the future of work. She is a Leadership Ambassador with Take The Lead and is based in NYC. She can be reached Follow her on Twitter@lexschroeder.