Have you ever been to an amazing experience or adventure and truly wondered what’s behind the magic curtain? When is the last time that you had an experience that exceeded your expectations? Well, over the past year, I experienced this twice by being myself and JUST SHOWING UP to Craig Lucas’s Authenica events. I personally have had transformational experiences on these trips…but that’s NOT what this is about.
Here is a little peek behind the curtain in my life--not something I publicly talk about often. I went through a very painful divorce over 7 years ago as well as faced a couple of gut-wrenching issues over the past two years including a very close friend committing suicide. I didn’t realize how these experiences had left wounds and scars that needed to be healed. These incidents had a negative impact on both my business and my personal relationships, but I was blind to the majority of it. I projected that most of my negative energy was due to stress, lack of sleep, being a single mom, or too much on my plate--so therefore I could or SHOULD be able to handle it. Yet, the gaping wounds were evident to those around me even though many had not been privy to the details of my life.
Going on the Authenica trips allowed me to connect with others on a level that I didn’t know was possible. I met many other comrades in loss who were overcomers and who didn’t allow their past to determine their future. I met individuals who had experienced tremendous amounts of loss: everything from bankruptcy to divorce, alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse, death of loved ones, job loss, etc. I felt like I found people who could truly understand the journey of healing that I was on, and I felt the freedom and safety to share with them the journey that I had been on throughout the years—one that I often call Beauty from Ashes.
Those who know me well know that I am an extremely positive, joyful, electric and passionate woman. Yet the scars and shame of things that had happened in my life left parts of me severed and incomplete. Those parts are what I was able to face in San Diego as well as Annapolis—all in a very safe and healing environment. Yet, this is NOT what it’s about….
I continue to repeat this phrase because what I experienced on these trips may not be what YOU experience if you choose to jump into the magic, the unknown and the mystery of a trip. Yet, there is an underlying rhythm under the surface of it all that embraces the broken who have chosen the path of healing, the self-admitted weak who continue to choose strength and those who do not allow their past to dictate or determine their future. Back to my Authenica story--having had some of the most transformational emotional healing in San Diego last May (both professionally and personally), I came into the Excellence on the Chesapeake trip in Annapolis, Maryland with initial expectations that I would experience the same type of “event.” But anyone who knows Craig Lucas should know that this is anything but true. So, despite my expectations, being the emotionally intelligent woman that I am, I knew that both truths couldn’t be true: I couldn’t just expect that I would experience Annapolis through the same lens, filter and healing that I had experienced in San Diego, nor could I just jump into Annapolis with completely new magic, mystery and wonder to try and experience without the foundation of what had occurred in San Diego.
If you don't know Craig Lucas, Vice President of Member Development at Corporate United and launcher of Authenica, he created these Authenica events as an invite-only passport to life-shaping experiences. They are meant to inspire excellence among like-minded leaders, to cultivate kindred spirits and to strategically gather alliances in this war called LIFE. The events have taken place at numerous locations over the years and have included speakers such as Ken Blanchard, David Baker, Mark McGinnis, Sara Harvey, Mark Pimpo, Swen Nater, Leigh Steinberg, Deborah Phelps and others. The objective is “to inspire attendees to be their best, most authentic version of self.” Yet, this is NOT what this is about…
Craig Lucas described the Annapolis event,
“The Chesapeake Bay setting represented a beautiful backdrop for another great experience for our Excellence attendees to savor. We had a special opportunity to showcase the idea of Excellence as our cornerstone theme once again, this time through more of an interactive, field trip experience that encompasses "behind the scenes" tours and an agenda that triggered an intense appreciation and respect for past, present and future."
Upon arrival to Annapolis, I immediately saw familiar faces as well as numerous new ones. We hit the ground running with a jam-packed schedule full of activities centered on team building, relationship deepening and memory creating...but again remember, this is NOT what it is about.
The humorous part of this trip for me was that I had invited a colleague of mine, who was on his first Authenica trip. Over our first meal of the trip, he asked me, “What the hell am I doing here? I honestly have no idea why you invited me, as I am not a networker and I don’t do conferences.”
I leaned across the table and said “This is not a conference. It is a journey of trust, adventure, mystery and wonder. Words cannot express what you are about to experience. But when you EXPERIENCE it, you will FEEL it and then you will know WHY you are meant to be here! And at that moment in time, you will raise your cocktail in salute to my invitation and acknowledge THAT’S WHY!”
On our first day, we visited the Michael Phelps Swim School at Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center and had the honor of meeting Deborah Phelps, the famous mama of Michael Phelps.
We then went into deep competition at Charm City Cakes for the GOLD medal in novice cupcake decorating skills, and guess who was on the WINNING team (yes, I am a bit competitive!!). Our day culminated with a breathtaking dinner overlooking Annapolis harbor and a fireside chat which included hearing the stories of VADM Walter E. “Ted” Carter, Jr., Mark McGinnis and Mark Pimpo. That evening at the fireside chat, my friend and colleague who initially was skeptical as to WHY he was at this event had his moment of realization. He humbly looked at me with these words, “Now I know why I’m here... I get it.”
During the second day, we walked the amazing landscape of the United States Naval Academy listening to stories, meeting and having lunch with the cadets and continuing to laugh, learn and grow as we honored those who fight for our freedom. As a group, we continued to share our personal stories and journeys and experience the freedom of that as well.
Being involved in Authenica has from the beginning been such an honor and privilege. As adults, we often don’t get pulled into the magic of Christmas, the mystery and wonder of life nor truly being immersed in an atmosphere or culture where we are invited to be US at the MOST humbling and scary core of who we are. We don’t feel we have permission to be vulnerable or open to truly experience the acceptance of who we are, right where we are.
All the more as individuals in business, we have all attended events where we come in with preconceived notions of what is to happen--whether it is a business conference, a professional development experience or a networking event. We know our place, we know what we should do, we mind our P’s and Q’s and ultimately and boringly we know what to expect. But occasionally, an event will EXCEED our expectations and magically surprise us with the experience that unfolds. That’s what happens when you attend an Authenica event! It provides you with serendipitous moments, new relationships, inner truths and eye-opening self-revelations. Walls come down, tears fall, and bonds are forged. We have the opportunity to see what humanity is all about: compassion, tenderness, understanding, failures, and successes. It is a time of sharing our trials as well as our triumphs.
Authenica provides an experience where you can take your masks off and be the BEST VERSION of YOU!! Here you not only share your secrets, failures, financial troubles, family issues and personal defeats, but--imagine this--you now have a tribe where you are encouraged to share your strengths, your successes, your dreams and your accomplishments, and this is truly the place where HOPE is birthed. Through laughter, tears and conversation, you are encouraged to step forward into the wonder and experience excellence. But again…that’s NOT what this is about…or then again, maybe it is!
What are YOU waiting for? Take the leap of faith and trust to let the magic begin!
To learn more about past and future events, check out the Authenica website, or read more about my first Authenica trip to San Diego here.
Jennifer Chernisky is the President and Founder of Jennasis and Associates, a team of designers, writers, developers, and strategists who help brands create more meaningful relationships with their clients and consumers. Through creative solutions and fresh thinking, Jennasis and Associates inspires brands to be more. Jennifer is an expert Marketing Consultant, Social Media Strategist, and Brand Developer. Her dynamic business savvy and cross-disciplinary thinking takes individuals, businesses, and speakers to the next level.