Five years ago, 9 friends spent a weekend in Boston together.  No real agenda, other than getting together and talking about the things that were most important to them, with the hope that it would spur them all to do better, be better, and grow from the experience.  It was the Mastermind/Not a Conference micro-conference.   And, due to a bad joke made on the eve of the first Podcamp Philly, it got nicknamed Zen Acorns.

A lot has happened in the past 5 years.  Out of this group, members have gone on to publish books, find new jobs, found a successful startup, and even run for political office.  We became good friends that weekend, and learned more about each other and ourselves than I think we could have anticipated.

What I got out of this weekend of introspection and sharing is still relevant today.  I learned to embrace my strengths, and how to challenge my weaknesses (I’m still working on a couple of those).  I got a sense of how other people saw me, and instead of feeling defensive in that vulnerability, I feel I’ve gained insight and more direction, as well as how to listen to that inner compass.

We planted a lot of seeds that weekend, some which are still waiting for their chance to bloom.  I will never forget taking a chance and saying yes to spending unstructured time with a group of friends, without knowing what would come out of it.  It’s so rare, as adults, to get agenda-free moments with people we’re not related to- other than those brief dinners or lunches, or hallways during a conference.  Those aren’t always the times when you will be your true self, and open up about what worries you, or discuss questions about where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve.

I wish we had more opportunities to do this sort of thing.  Small groups, without outside demands or distractions, talking and resolving to make the world a better place, based on our own best contributions.

Thank you, fellow Acorns.  Hope to see you soon!