I've received some emails asking me how to start a circle and how to find the right members. Circles can be magical things, and are so worthwhile.
When we started our circle, the goddess Leonie was the instigator. This turquoise goddess knew a couple of girls, the goddess Bek knew a couple, and as it turned out so did I -- so it kind of grew from there.
If you don't have friends that share your passion, then there's a couple of ways you can go about finding like-minded goddesses:
STEP ONE: KNOW WHAT KIND OF MEMBER YOU WANT
First of all its important to consider the qualities you want most in a fellow circle member. The best members are committed to taking action, excited about making changes, good listeners and open minded.
STEP TWO: DETERMINE THE TYPE OF GROUP YOU WANT
Open Group: This may be a group with an unlimited number of members. With an open group, there is no commitment to attend.
Closed Group: This group has a finite number of members. If you want equal time, six to eight members are best. If not, the group can be larger. There is a commitment to attend (I recommend a three month expectation to start) How Often Will You Meet? I recommend that you schedule your meetings three months in advance to make planning easy and to demonstrate your commitment to the group. We meet bi-weekly, but monthly is also good.Remember that the goal is to stay in action!
STEP THREE: FINDING MEMBERS
There are a number of ways to find new members for your group. Here are some examples:
- If you belong to a message board, do an expression of interest post calling women in your area that are on the board.
- Create a flyer. Be sure to include tear-tabs at the end of your flyer so people can leave with your contact information (not your flyer!).
- Send an invitation. Invite friends, colleagues, family members or acquaintances to an informal evening discussion so you can talk about the idea of forming a group and determine the level of interest.
- Have a friend ask a friend. One of the quickest ways to get a group going is to invite one or two friends and ask them to bring along a friend. (Personally I find this the best way).
STEP FOUR: POST YOUR FLYER
Here are some places you can post your flyer: bookstores; cafe; lunch/break rooms at work; children's school; churches; colleges and universities; community service centers; daycare center; grocery stores (bulletin boards); health clubs; libraries; spas; hair/nail salons; women's centers; yoga centers; and YWCA/YMCA/Recreation centers.
Some of these places may even allow you to use their space for meetings. Be creative!
STEP FIVE: FOLLOW SMART GROUP GUIDELINES
The following guidelines not only help to create a safe place for a productive and enjoyable meeting, but they help to eliminate the kind of habits that quickly dissolve a group. Review these guidelines at the beginning of every meeting.
Confidentiality: Everything that is said at a meeting is strictly confidential.
Equal time: When running a closed group, be sure that each person has a chance to speak. While there may certainly be times when a member needs extra attention, it's important to prevent members from continuously dominating the conversation. To ensure that everyone gets equal time. Do not allow cross talk, criticism and advice giving, or "fixing" of anyone.
Positive focus: Put the attention on what works. Look for and acknowledge a member's strengths. Keep complaining and whining to a minimum—one minute or less (we all need to do it sometimes). Speak from your own experience: Use the word "I," not "you," when speaking to other members.
Honour the group: Check in regularly to be sure that all members are satisfied with how the meetings are run. Be willing to tell the truth gracefully. You might check in at the end of each meeting, once a month or once a quarter.
STEP SIX: GROUP FACILITATION
There are many formats you can use to run a successful group meeting. Some groups may be about finding and pursuing your passion, in general. Your group may also be formed around a particular subject, like writing or volunteering.
There are two types here—one for a closed meeting and one for an open meeting. With either type, rotate facilitation responsibilities. This prevents one member from taking responsibility for the success of the group.
Closed Meeting Format: Negotiate equal time for each member. Review group guidelines. Start with 15 minutes of success stories, catch up, or letting go of anything that might prevent you from being fully present. Begin the group discussion. Allow the first person to speak without interruption for the allotted time. When finished, ask for feedback and/or support from other members. Be specific! Commit to homework for the next meeting. Move on to the next person. Needs and resources—when each member has had a chance to be fully heard, open the meeting and allow members to ask for and receive any additional help. A member might need a supportive phone call before taking a difficult action or contact information that will allow them to move forward. Share your resources with each other! Set up or confirm the next meeting.
Open Meeting Format: Welcome participants. Review group guidelines. Start with 15 minutes (or more depending on the size of the group) of success stories, catch up, or letting go of anything that might prevent you from being fully present. Begin group discussion. The facilitator can begin by discussing a certain subject and then open the meeting to other members. Depending on the size of the group, you may need to limit speaking time to 2 or 3 minutes each. Remember that allowing someone to dominate the space causes people to feel frustrated. They won't come back! Gently remind the person speaking that time is limited. Suggest homework for the group. Needs and resources—allow 15 minutes at the end of the meeting for members to ask for and receive help. Share your resources with each other! Set up or confirm the next meeting.
I hope this helps - good luck!
Love, joy & rainbows,