I don't know how you were growing up, but I was never big on "group stuff". I never joined a fraternity or liked to be a part of anything that required regular commitments of my time.
Given the choice to have a quiet dinner with a smart friend vs. go out with a big group I would always pick the more intimate experience.
I went to business school and skipped out on the football games and all of the barbecues.
Call me an introvert.
Which is perhaps why I joined a Vistage group eight months ago with great trepidation.
I committed myself to spend a day a month with a group of peers to work "on my business" instead of "in my business".
I certainly fretted the time commitment, and "getting away" for a day. But frankly I was also nervous about spending a day a month with strangers.
Would I get anything out of it? Would I help them? Could they help me?
During the first few months I was reluctant to bring any of my issues to the table. I was happy to try to add my two cents to others issues. Sometimes at the end of the day, my brain hurt as I drove home as I realized that I wasn't alone.
I liked the group and the people, and I enjoyed the diversion from the day to day grind. I also benefited from the monthly one to one sessions with the Chair of my group.
But the real power of Vistage manifested itself last session when I broke out of my introvert shell and asked for feedback for an idea I was working on.
And sure enough in twenty to thirty minutes, this group of CEO's from non-competing industries, transformed how I think of messaging and marketing my company, and an entirely new product line. I am not sure they realize it, or even if I realized it until a few days later. But after the ideas sunk in, they were powerful, real and valid.
I didn't get the ideas from marketing or strategy consultants or an article I read on line. They didn't come from one of our regular team meetings. They came from a group of "outsiders" who are slowly becoming "insiders".
Thank you Vistage and thank you to my peers. You are slowly turning me into an extrovert after all.