This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a “Leadership Forward” put on by Half Full at The Gant in Aspen, Colorado. The event, which was co-facilitated by Aron Ralston, of 127 Hours fame, at this amazing venue, brought together a diverse group of executives including several representatives from the snowboard industry, Unity’s James Binette and Neu Production Founder John Roderick.

Half Full Owner Rebecca Twitchell calls the events “Forwards” versus “Retreats” as they’re all about moving, well, forward in your leadership abilities, vision, mission, and strategic planning. While the age old debate over whether leadership can be taught rages on, the fact is that having the tools to set a sturdy course of action and develop and stay focused on a coherent strategy is paramount to successfully running a business, and even a life.

With an intimate group of  attendees, including Mario, a 16 year-old Glenwood Springs sophomore who is in the process of getting a prosthetic arm similar to Ralston’s, we focused on creating a strategy for our individual businesses and developing ways to overcome the obstacles to achieve them in a way that anyone in the industry can relate to – by getting gnarly. After a day in the classroom we headed to Independence Pass to work the metaphor of leadership into rock climbing with Ralston. A far cry from the cliché trust falls of many retreats, moving forward up the rocks shone a spotlight on the necessity of teamwork, trust, and following through to achieve your goals.

The biggest lessons of the weekend for my business were realizing just how important it is to remove yourself from the day-to-day routine and step back and take the long view of where you, your team, and your brand are heading. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the business of running your business, and lose sight of where you’re running it. Without course corrections, you often wind up heading where you originally intended, but that location, as a goal, has changed over time, leaving you in entirely the wrong spot.

That said, strategic planning can often be a daunting task for organizations without solid tools for breaking down a huge process into manageable pieces, evaluating the soundness of each, and moving forward in a way that sets measurable short, medium, and long term goals. The Forward was a great opportunity to step back and take a look at our brand’s direction, an absolutely necessary task in the current economic playground, and take a closer look at whether our current strategy makes sense and will get us where we need to be.

For more information on attending a future Forward, go to Half Full.