I do it everywhere now. Over lunch or coffee at work. During dinner parties. In the elevator and even on Twitter. “You should form a Working Out Loud circle,” I’ll say.
It’s not to promote Working Out Loud or even circles but to share a feeling. Because I’ve seen such positive experiences in the peer support groups, I want to help others have the same feelings I've had.
My own circles
My own experience is that being part of a circle for 12 weeks gives me the encouragement, support, structure, and shared accountability to help me actually do things I know are good for me.
What I didn’t expect is that I would make friends. I barely knew the people in my circle. Some I had never met. Yet as we shared our goals and fears, our successes and our weaknesses, we naturally grew closer. We became increasingly invested in each other’s success and each other’s happiness.
The circle helped me feel positive, connected, and empowered.
What other people say
At work, I often join circles in their 4th week to talk with them about what’s working and not working, and to help them with goals and contributions or questions they may have. Sometimes, the good feelings come right away. As Dawn wrote,
"After just one WOL Circle meeting, I was already feeling more connected with my colleagues and more encouraged about my career."
One group of 5 young women invited me to meet with them after their 12 weeks. They were going to dinner together that night (a “graduation” dinner like my own circle had). Some of the women will be going off to graduate school, and they talked about how they had become friends and will stay in touch. They also mentioned that they'll form circles again with other people and other goals.
Each of them had developed a network toward an individual goal while also developing new skills and new friendships.
What a tough critic says
My toughest critic is my wife, as evidenced by her candor when she first read a final draft of the book late last year. That led to a major rewrite and a much better book 6 months later.
So I was pleasantly surprised when, at a lunch with one of my daughter’s teachers, my wife started telling her about working out loud and about circles. The woman is a wonderful person and extremely talented, and my wife wanted to help her discover more opportunities. A similar thing happened with another friend.
We gave our daughter's teacher a book the next day. Our friend will be part of my next circle.
Although I intended the book to help people, I hadn’t expected the feelings it might engender, or that others would share books and circles as a way to say “I care about you and hope this helps you discover even more possibilities.”