School started in New York City this week. We bought supplies, packed the backpacks, set the kids’ alarms again, and now they’re ready to return to a structured routine.
After a wonderful summer break, which included exploring ideas as well as places, I’m excited about the work ahead. Here are a few things I’ve been working on and thinking about since my last post. If you’d like to contribute your own feedback or ideas in the comments, I would appreciate it.
Two new ways to help people practice WOL
I always enjoy talking with people who are in a WOL Circle. Sometimes it’s helping them one-on-one by email or phone. Sometimes I’ll join a Circle meeting or have a Q&A call with an organization that’s spreading Circles. Since I can only do that for a limited number of people, though, I’ve been looking for ways to scale it, ways I could include elements of my talks and workshops without making the Circle Guides too long.
So I’ve been working on a video coaching series. The idea is that for each week of your Circle, you’ll be able to watch a video on your phone that includes me walking you through the exercises, offering tips on each one, and describing research and examples about why and how they work. I just finished writing the scripts, and I’m working with a fantastic coach to prepare for filming. With some luck, I’ll have a version that I can share with clients in a few months.
The other thing I’ve been working on is experimenting with different workbook formats to complement the videos. A workbook would allow you to have a single place to do all the exercises that would serve as a journal of your Circle experience. It also gives me a place to offer more tips and templates, reinforcing what’s in the videos. These should be available for sale on the site in early 2018.
Some delicious research
The words “delicious” and “research” may not often go together, but that’s what came to mind while I was doing summer reading on the science of relatedness - how we relate to ourselves and to others. The feeling of relatedness leads to certain positive behaviors and feelings that are good for individuals as well as groups (and companies). The more we know about the biology and psychology of relatedness, the more readily we can help people develop it.
Among the books I’ve enjoyed devouring this summer are Mind and The Mindful Brain by Dr. Dan Siegel; Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff; The Compassionate Instinct edited by Dacher Keltner et al; and Social Bonding and Nurture Kinship by Maximillian Holland. That last one is actually a Ph. D. thesis on “inclusive fitness theory,” providing insights on the evolutionary development of pro-social behaviors among “related” individuals.
My intention is to use this line of research to create another set of guides in 2018 that would build on Working Out Loud. My thinking is that, if you’ve already been in a WOL Circle, then you could use a similar social learning format to experience other practices that can make you happier and more effective.
Not a map but a direction
Are these the right next steps for Working Out Loud? I don’t know. What I do know, based on emails and other feedback I’m receiving, is that WOL Circles are helping people make progress towards goals while they’re feel more curious, more confident, and happier. That’s enough for me to keep looking for ways to reach more people and develop more practices. It’s all in the service of the broader WOL mission: “changing how we relate to each other, to ourselves, and to the work we do.”
That may sound ambitious, but you needn’t reach everyone to make a meaningful difference. A quote from the Dalai Lama helps me put things in perspective. (It’s from an interview I read this week in The Compassionate Instinct.)
“Our responsibility is to try our best and do what we can. Then that will be a part of things that we may achieve. Ten people follow a practice - good. One hundred - better. A thousand - still better. Not all 6 billion.
If the work is something that is worthwhile, then, regardless whether we can achieve it or not, make attempt. That is, I think, important. Courageous.”
Start where you are. Maybe you’ll join your first Circle, helping yourself and four other people. Or maybe you’ll wind up spreading Circles in your organization, ultimately helping hundreds or thousands or even more. Courage is in making the attempt.