• Brenda K Reynolds

SURPRISING CONNECTION #2: Executive Retreats and Singing “KUMBAYA”


I’ve been facilitating a series of executive retreats recently. And at almost every one of them it happens. We open the day, and someone expresses their fear…” oh, man, are we gonna be holding hands and singing” kumbaya”? After doing this work for over 20 years now, it strikes me how few participants fear that a fist fight may break out during the event, but there’s something about the idea of singing “kumbaya” that takes them out of their comfort zone. What is it? Why does it live in us as something to fear? Speedos and bikinis are scarey, but “kumbaya?” What’s the fear born of? Exposing poor singing voices? Hmmm…only a small part of the objection I imagine. Is it the pace of the song? It slows us down. It gets soulful. Is it the idea of feeling exposed? More vulnerable? Its simple words remind us that we are all ONE. It reminds us of a bond. The origin of the song was rooted in the idea that there is strength and power in togetherness and harmony. Yet, it’s come to reflect cynicism and weakness.


So, today I’m marveling at this and wondering what would happen if we really did hold hands and hum a few bars of” kumbaya” just before that stressful budget meeting. I’m waiting to meet the group who evolves to the point of initiating holding hands and singing “kumbaya” before we adjourn. What facilitator needs smiley sheets and positive evaluations? This would be better proof of a group having been brought out of their comfort zone and into relationship differently…into a new space. Could “Kumbaya” be the new competitive advantage? Afterall, Einstein said, “ you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” Let’s show everyone how smart we can be and start to sing…from our hearts.


(for the record, Brenda has never requested a client group sing kumbaya….but she’s open to that spontaneous possibility)

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