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Creating change and a vision for your life (feat. Matt Brannagan)

Sep 15, 2021

What would happen if you stepped away from your routine for a full week… to focus on crafting your future? 


For some leaders, this might sound like a dream — but challenging. In our busy world, it’s a rarity to dedicate so much uninterrupted time to thinking about what you want from the next chapter of your life. And yet, if you don’t stop to get off the hamster wheel and evaluate what would truly bring meaning and fulfillment, you run the risk of deep regret later in life.


In today’s episode, we discuss the Hoffman Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to transformative adult education, spiritual growth, and the personal dimensions of leadership. The Hoffman Institute’s flagship offer is a 7-day residential retreat for those who are committed to change.


Many of their retreat attendees are leaders, especially those who are approaching a transition (such a career pivot or promotion) and want to be intentional about this period of change.


As Matt Brannagan, the Director of Faculty at the Hoffman Institute, put it: “Going to this retreat is a way to identify what legacy you want to leave.”


While the simple act of unplugging for a stretch of time is valuable on its own, the Hoffman Institute goes beyond rest to facilitate an environment to intentionally “heal the past” and move into a clearer vision for the future.



How healing your past makes you a better leader


Matt shares that the Hoffman Institute’s approach to personal development is to help leaders recognize underlying patterns from their childhood that guide their behavior, so they can start leading from an authentic place.


For example, a highly successful leader may attend the Hoffman Institute retreat and see that they’ve been driven (unaware) by a childhood belief that they are not good enough. All their success came from a desire to prove (first to their parents, and then to others) that they are good enough, which means they haven’t ever identified or pursued what they truly want.


The ripple effects of healing these patterns are immense in leadership.


This type of work supports you in accepting your full humanity, and in doing so, you are able to appreciate and have compassion for the humanity in others. The result is a vast improvement in your ability to navigate challenging interpersonal dynamics.


When you can see and interrupt limiting patterns, you can act from your true desires. Matt tells the story of a leader who finally got clear on what he wanted his legacy to be — and so made the decision to stay longer in his company instead of leaving, despite initially defaulting to what he thought he “should” do, which was to leave.



The power of group retreat settings for inner work


After coming out of active duty in the military, Matt was searching for direction and meaning, and stumbled upon a personal development program for adults. That experience improved his life so much that he pursued this track further, eventually finding the Hoffman Institute.


For example, when Matt was later called back into the military, he found he was able to be a leader in that high-stakes setting. He used the principles of the Hoffman Institute to bring a lens of compassion to military leadership.


Matt also shares how the Hoffman Institute addresses patterns like…

  • Letting your decisions come from an old story, like “I’m not good enough”
  • Feeling disconnected from others because you haven’t reconciled your past
  • Listening to messages from your past as though they were happening in the present


If you enjoyed the conversation in this episode about the personal development side of leadership, you’ll also love my interview with Bill Adams of The Leadership Circle.

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