How I love Twitter-- I've connected with so many wonderful folks there. One of my Twitter buddies is Tracy Brown, a writer, web whiz and volunteer (she runs a support group for women). Tracy and I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face on a recent visit to Rochester, New York and we ended up talking for hours-- and could have talked all day long. During our conversation, Tracy shared her experience of attending a Jack Canfield seminar and I asked her to share her experience with Chicago Now readers as a guest post:
This past summer I attended a personal development seminar led by author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield. You may have heard of him – he’s one of the founders of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book franchise, author of the bestseller The Success Principles, and he has led a number of training programs over the past few decades.
I attended the seminar along with my love and life partner, Gordon. We didn’t know what to expect – and sometimes we certainly experienced the unexpected – but after spending seven full days with around 250 other participants (from 20 different countries), we returned home with new personal insights, tools, and a profound sense of who we’re choosing to be in this life.
Let me share just a few personal experiences from the seminar that I believe were powerful and/or beneficial:
• Guided Meditation – I truly believe Jack Canfield is a master of guided meditations. He led several over the course of the week, and during one in particular, in which he guides participants to find a “symbol of your purpose,” I was so profoundly moved and amazed by the experience that I wiped away tears throughout the last half of the guided meditation. (My deepest apologies to the man sitting to my left who had to listen to me sniffle!)
• New Perspectives – It was refreshing to get perspectives from people of different ages, industries, nationalities and countries, etc. One young lady (only seventeen years old) asked me such good questions during a partner exercise that I realized some of the goals I had set I didn’t believe I would achieve. I wasn’t even sure I wanted them! After this conversation I ended up reevaluating my goals and clarifying what I really wanted in my life.
• Practice What Successful People Do – Guess what? You probably can’t reach your dreams all by yourself. You need to tap into the perspective and potential wisdom of others. And that’s what successful people do. We were directed to form groups of six and taught how to run a “mastermind” group session. It was a good experience and what made it more impactful is that we were taught how to do it by author Robert MacPhee (Manifesting for Non-Gurus) instead of merely referring to a “how to” manual. The hands-on leadership really made a difference.
• Public Speaking Feedback – I rarely find myself in situations which require me to speak in front of groups. Truthfully, I have avoided these “opportunities” whenever possible! Still, they do crop up from time to time, so it was good to get immediate feedback on how I can improve my public speaking skills. We were required to deliver a three-minute speech to the mastermind group on topics of our choice. The exercise was helpful and provided good food for thought.
• Networking – I met people of all ages and backgrounds from all over the world. With many, the relationship would end on the last day of the seminar; with others, the correspondence and relationship continues. The opportunity for growing your personal (and professional) network is one of the best parts of attending a seminar like this.
• Assignments – Yup, we had homework every night! Some of it was written homework, but some homework included action items, such as, hugging five new people. (The awesome waiter at a Mexican restaurant let me hug him – actually, he offered to let me hug him five times!)
One homework assignment truly made a difference in my life since returning home. We were challenged to ask for something that would be a stretch for us since so many of us never ask for what we really want. Upon returning to the hotel room one evening, I turned to Gordon and said: “I am doing my assignment now. I need to ask you my stretch question.”
(I saw the fear in his eyes, but he said okay.)
I told him: “I want to focus on completing my manuscript for the rest of this year. I want to stay home and not take on any more clients. I don’t want to worry about money – would you be willing to pick up the slack through December so I can go for my dream?” Without hesitation, Gordon said yes. Would I have made this request without the Canfield homework challenge? Possibly. But I’m not sure I would’ve been able to ask without feeling guilty. And that has made a huge difference in going for my goal. By the way, I’m right on task too. I have completed my fiction manuscript and I’m going through my first edit. Yeah!
I also left the seminar with the following:
• An Accountability Partner – My accountability partner is AMAZING. Monday through Friday we speak on the phone for around 10 minutes in the morning to list our top action items we must do on that day to further move us toward our goals. We’re similar in that we’re very task-oriented. And, because we have told each other our plans for the day, we make additional efforts to keep our commitments. Sometimes we even admit to staying up later, or getting up earlier in the morning to complete an item because we want to be able to say, “Yes, I kept my commitment.”
• Resources/Books/Materials – There were many items shared as “continuing education” resources, and we were also given books and worksheets to take home. Some items came from the Canfield training; others were provided as gifts by other participants. Of course you could purchase personal-development books and CDs/DVDs while you were there.
• Profound Insight Into a Limiting Belief – There was one particular exercise we were required to do, and I’ll be honest: I hated it. I met others who felt the same, so I know I was not alone. What this exercise required of participants doesn’t matter. It’s what happened after I returned home that’s important. You see, I was still very upset about this seminar exercise. I talked about it with others to get their opinions. Gordon admitted he didn’t particularly enjoy the exercise either, but his experience didn’t affect him in the same way. My strong reaction to this one exercise should have been a sign. A month after the seminar I realized why I was so upset. It pointed to a debilitating personal belief I’ve carried with me throughout most of my life. This one belief helped create the conditions for bad experiences and relationships for as far back as I can remember. I may not have ever called it out into the light without participating in the “horrible exercise” during the seminar.
Is a seminar like the Canfield program for everyone? No, of course not. It’s expensive and requires a lot of commitment and a willingness to be vulnerable. And sure, there were definitely days in which it really wasn’t for me. For example, I prefer journaling and written exercises over “sharing” – although there were some extremely valuable small group and one-on-one partner exercises. But, that’s me. The seminar might be a perfect fit for someone else.
I would suggest to anyone considering any multi-day seminar to ask good questions in advance, such as: Can you describe a typical day of the seminar? How much individual work will there be versus partner or group work? Do exercises include physical contact with others in the seminar? Can I talk to past participants to learn about their experience (and not just testimonials)? Are seminar beginning and end times adhered to as scheduled? What kind of rules will the group be expected to follow? You might even want to ask for “seminar rules” in advance.
In closing, I want to share something important I learned as a result of the Canfield seminar. I believe we all need to know this and take it to heart:
People from all over the world really do want to help each other – even strangers! They want to be kind and compassionate. They want to see you succeed and reach your dreams. They want to cheer you on. They really do care, and if they can make something happen for you to help you, they will do it joyfully. The world is full of these kinds of people. And we can find them if we are open to connecting with them.
How do we do that? We can start by sharing our dreams and visions, without apology, with everyone. Start today! Start now! Take a step and tell us about your dreams and visions in the comments below. Don’t hold back – because we really do want to know about you, and if we can help you reach your goals.
Tracy Brown is a writer living in Upstate New York. She lives with her love and life partner, Gordon, and two mischievous house cats. She’s currently working on her first paranormal mystery manuscript, Door to Door. Her vision? To be a successful, top-paid, NY Times bestselling author of a wildly-popular mystery fiction series by 2013. Tracy plans to take readers on a magical journey of mystery and mayhem – with plenty of red herrings and laughter thrown in! You can visit her new blog at: Write On!