Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend Rajesh Setty’s 4th Cerebrate. The event is held twice annually. It was my first time attending, and I believe each event has been a little bit different and continues to evolve.
It has always been held at the Mount Madonna Center overlooking the Monterey Bay. In advance, we were only told to arrive on Friday night by 4:30 p.m. and that it would end early on Sunday afternoon. There was little advance details that we (the participants) were given as to how things will work. It’s that way by design. It’s a little mysterious.
But it was an awesome experience …
All fifteen participants attended because Rajesh personally invited them or they were referred by a friend. I attended because my friend Terry told me I should go. She said I’d benefit from it in one way or the other. Attending Cerebrate starts with an act of trust.
Despite the lack of an advance agenda, the group quickly settled into a structure that felt comfortable and productive. The first half of Cerebrate gave everyone an opportunity to talk about themselves. As I stated already, there wasn’t a format that was to be followed. Rather, a format evolved as one spoke, then another, and finally all fifteen.
After a person spoke, you understood them on a much deeper level. The polite chit-chat that we initially engaged in such as ‘what do you do’ suddenly seemed irrelevant. Because people shared freely, we learned personal struggles, conflicts, tragedies, triumphs, and victories. As one shared the intimate details of their life journey, it inspired the next person to do the same. In my own case, I revealed details about a single lesson learned from each my mother and my father. Those lessons shape me to this very day and are key to my developing the three principles of Gumption. Before Cerebrate, I had never publicly stated these lessons … I gained a deeper understanding of my own foundational beliefs.
In the forty-five total hours the group spent together, almost thirty-three hours were either spent in formal group conversation or one-on-one discussions. Whew … that is a lot of listening. Note that I didn’t say a lot of talking. Everyone listened at least fifteen times more then they talked.
Here are a few more random thoughts and highlights.
- In-depth understanding of others does not occur during a five-minute conversation. Having a willingness to share deeply with others doesn’t happen in a ten-minute conversation. Real sharing and understanding occurs when a significant amount of time is taken. And it must be done so in an atmosphere of complete trust.
- One participant shared during the goodbyes that he never before arrived for a two-day business visit where he didn’t prepare and have preconceived concepts about what the outcome should be. Arriving with this type of openness seems to be a key ingredient to making the event personally so rewarding.
- Karma – While it was never discussed openly in the group sessions, I felt myself sensing it and learning more and more about karma from my one-on-one conversations with my new friends.
- Despite having met with various degrees of monetary success during their careers, almost all spoke in one way or the other the need to do work that was meaningful on a personal level in the future – making money is no longer a prime motivating factor.
- Despite cultural differences … despite physical differences … despite age, gender, and spiritual differences … people have more in common with each other than we have differences.
- Active listening takes concentration and is hard work … good things occur (and are learned) when you concentrate and work hard at listening.
- I never before heard a math joke in my entire life … I never before laughed so hard at back-to-back math jokes told by Rajesh.
- It’s easier to think about the world in terms of cultures than it is to think about the world in terms of countries.
- The Art of Controversy written by Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) should be required reading for all people interested in personal or public persuasion. It lists numerous tactics that individuals use to argue, distract, confuse, and even personally attack when attempting to counter argue a point. We see a lot of these tactics daily by our political leaders and the talking head commentators … sad, but true. AND, the book is public domain so the Kindle version is free – now, how cool is that?
- We meet many people during the course of our daily lives and business dealings. They mostly are acquaintances. Cerebrate offered fifteen strangers the opportunity to form life-long friendships in a single weekend of listening and sharing.
If you’d like me to introduce you to Rajesh or a future Cerebrate, just send me a message or add a comment … it was better than a box of chocolates.
Next Blog Title: Cerebrate – Five Things I Learned
Next Blog Date: February 23, 2012