Earlier this week, I met with a Working Out Loud circle in Japan, the first one there. We talked about their goals and the relationships they were building, and about the exercises they had done. As they approached the end of their 12 weeks together, they wanted to know if they had done things right, and what to do next.
What success looks like
You’ll know you’ve succeeded in a circle if you’ve changed your mindset in some way and taken some action you wouldn’t have taken otherwise.
For this circle in Japan, success came in different forms. For one person it was paying more attention to goals he cared about and investing time in them. For another it was being more open to connecting with people and to new ideas. Trying to develop his hobby into something more, he is now regularly sharing his work, hosting events, and interacting with master craftsmen in Japan. One person said “It already changed my life.”
We didn’t talk about the number of people in their network or the amount of social media activity. We talked about their goals and steps they were taking toward them, and about how they felt.
The conversation with the circle in Japan is similar to those I’ve had with many other groups. When circles work, people say they feel “like their world is bigger” or that they are “more empowered and encouraged.” A new mindset and new habits is a powerful combination.
When circles don’t work
Not all circles work this way. Some have trouble just organizing the first meeting, or having everyone show up. Others find the 12 weeks too long, or that an hour a week is too much.
They’re not doing anything wrong. People are busy, and getting a group together can be a challenge. Even if you want to take steps toward a goal you care about, it can feel easier to just keep doing what you’re doing.
Each circle that doesn’t work is an opportunity to learn. So in 2016, we’ll collect these experiences in a more systematic way and use that data to make the circle experience even easier and more effective.
What’s happens after 12 weeks?
One of the questions the group in Japan had was about what to do next. Should they keep going as a circle? Did it make sense to use the same guides again?
I told them I’m on my seventh circle now, and I find that including different people each time helps bring new energy and perspectives to my goal. The structure and shared accountability of the process helps me take the steps I need to take. I described how I use the same guides because sometimes my goal is different and so the entire process applies. Even when my goal is unchanged, I get a chance to practice the different steps and exercises and approach them differently now that I have more experience.
The first circle in Japan did beautifully and experienced a wide range of successes they can now apply to other goals. They agreed that next year they’ll form new circles, helping themselves and others take a next step.
Note: The next post will be on January 6th, 2016. Enjoy the holidays!