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What ‘Small Town’ New Zealand Can Teach Us All!

16 Nov 2016
What ‘Small Town’ New Zealand Can Teach Us All!

Back in the day I got introduced to the phrase ‘The only difference between a rut and a grave is how deep and how long’ – significant for no other reason that is as profound now as it was 20 odd years ago. At the same time, a corporation I worked for talked about the ‘The Tyranny of Incrementalism’ – I think it means making small changes expecting big outcomes!?

So in November 2016 I find myself, post excellent recommendation, at a ‘Wellness Retreat’ in Te Aroha, New Zealand. Now I’m sure those with ego, identity and a variety of other either inflated or dismissive personalities are going, count me out of any of that sitting round the camp fire/Kumbaya ‘rubbish’……………well, just hear me out – at heart I’m a simple guy from South Wales.

Te Atawhai is a retreat that is part brainchild of Annah Stretton, a well regarded and highly successful NZ entrepreneur. It would ruin the experience for others to share how it works but I should start by saying that it’s not huddled round discussing the meaning of life. Te Atawhai is an opportunity to pause and reset where you are, what you are doing and where you are heading although at no point are there separate seminars about this subject matter or need to sign post ‘Now we are going to define…………….’ The beauty, possibly magic, is that these questions/answers come up by Movement, Action, Relaxation, Massage, Stretching, Adventure in Nutrition and Talking to what start as complete strangers. My fellow attendees were as diverse as they were interesting and all open to experience and challenge with a sense of objectivity

An example of how insight and lesson is applied is that on one day I completed a hike that started as ‘I’ve got this’ and at various stages confronted my need to be in control and understand the parameters of my journey such that I ‘threw my toys’ (sorry I lost my temper ‘Wellness Besties’) and was ready to throw in the towel. I relive that moment regularly because it’s just life.

So small town NZ, what’s my point? I’ve often thought that many towns/places are confronted with a unique challenge, maybe pronounced in this high density digital age – why should you stop and see what is there/how do they entice you? Te Aroha, I have learnt, is a charming place – full of character, great characters, attractions, personality and a real sense of community. For many of us, myself included, we can race through life (Work and Personal) to the next BIG thing/milestone or ‘big event’ and yet maybe the greater opportunity is to pause, listen and look to what is right here, under our noses.

Te Atawhai gave me the opportunity to RESET and pay attention to my surroundings. I have seen new opportunities and possibilities in relationship and business and move forward with a greater sense of clarity.

My challenge to you is to take yourself on and see what is possible. For me, with one of those decade events approaching in 9 months, I do so with renewed vigour and optimism!

Jonathan Sweeney is a Business and Personal Performance Coach who has developed a company called icu BIG! ‘Putting LIFE into Business’



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