WHO IS THE SABBATICAL EXPERIENCE INTENDED FOR?
Specifically, it's designed for well-educated people at a mid-point
in their lives who are ready for a major break - to take stock
of where they are and where they are going. It's meant to jump-start
that valuable process, and open up new possibilities in participants'
professional and personal futures.
Areté (pronounced ah-rhet-uh) is a classical Greek noun meaning the elements which comprise good character.
The Sabbatical was designed as a completely new kind of learning
experience - tailored for professionals shouldering the burden
of today's unprecedented work and personal pressures. It entails
a radical break from routine plus a carefully choreographed daily
dosage of the timeless requisites of maximum aliveness, creativity
and happiness. These elements include intellectual challenge,
physical movement, immersion in creative expression, and, not
least of all, a supportive learning community. There is also unstructured
time for rest and reflection, and, of course, for absorbing the
inspirational ambience of Prague, one of the world's architectural
and cultural wonders.
Unlike typical professional training programs, the Arete
Sabbatical is not about passively sitting in a classroom.
The curriculum synthesizes elements from several fertile precedents,
among them the "Personal Creativity in Business" course at Stanford,
and the equally renowned "Executive Seminar" at The Aspen Institute.
In line with classic Greek ideals, our aim is to focus on the
whole human being, with the net result that participants attain
better balance in their lives. Sabbatical graduates should not
merely be happier and refreshed, but better able to access natural
creativity and impact their environment in more positive ways.
We can definitely start the process, and give participants
the tools they need to keep growing.
To begin with, the ideas and exercises we draw upon from creativity
course at the Business do an excellent job of assisting talented
people unblock their abilities, by helping them look within. has
taught his course for two decades, and it is credited by hundreds
of successful alumni as having enhanced their work and personal
lives. Two years ago I spent six weeks in observing course, and
saw for myself the immense impact it has on students at the world's
top-rated MBA school.
The multiple dimensions of Arete's Sabbatical
are designed to be strongly mutually reinforcing. The Classical
Greek ideal of areté, from which we take our name, holds that
becoming a balanced person means not merely that you perfect your
intellectual, physical and artistic talents, but that you also
engage the world. With that in mind, Arete's Sabbatical borrows
from other inspirations, including whose seminars assemble leaders
from varied walks of life for a week devoted to discussion and
reflection on enduring questions from philosophy and literature.
Aspen's seminars employ a Socratic format, which spurs participants
to look outside themselves and actively connect with others. That
is a very healthy and also enjoyable thing.
The Sabbatical involves a series
of novel experiences, but there is also a text-based syllabus
precisely as with a university course. Participants are not only
in for a marvelous week, they will go home with a half-dozen terrific
books to help keep them on the path of continued growth.
Prague is an enchanting city with exquisite cultural resources that are exceptionally affordable. Secondly, burnout isn't caused just by stress but also by boredom. For this reason a week at the beach, though nice, isn't particularly helpful at changing one's long-term outlook on life and work. Thus when it came to designing a program meant to inspire and reinvigorate participants, we opted for taking full advantage of a context that is enormously different from what most people experience day-to-day. There are literally hundreds of extraordinary venues to choose from in Prague for holding various Sabbatical sessions, and hundreds of world-class thinkers and artists to host them. We have made Prague an integral part of participants' Sabbatical experience. Anyone who associates seminars with enduring a neon-lit conference room in a hotel or office building is in for a pleasant surprise.