Whether you call it a Happiness Team™, friendship circle, or a men’s or women’s group, many people have discovered the power of a support group. You may already have a good friend, close relative, or colleague you like to talk to. If that person listens well and is encouraging when life gets rough, perhaps you are wondering what value a team would add to your life.
As my favorite musical, “Into the Woods” puts it in a signature song, “Sometimes people leave you halfway through the woods.” Just as your financial well-being is best served if not all of your funds are in the same place, your emotional well-being is better assured with more than one person you can confide in and count on.
If you are blessed with several close friends, you may wonder why the need to gather them all in a room at the same time on a regular basis. The best reason I have found is the level of trust and intimacy that develops over time in a small group of people who talk honestly about their hopes, dreams, disappointments, and challenges. There is a rare “knowing” of one another, and a level of compassion that comes from being vulnerable together. The very fact that everyone in the group is totally committed to the success and happiness of their teammates creates very strong bonds.
Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Who’s Got Your Back, is primarily focused on the value of trusted teams at work, but he also fully recognizes their value on a personal level. Keith says, “My own experience has convinced me that the key to unlocking our highest personal and professional potential lies in creating…that safe place, where we get and give back intimate, honest support when both the big and small issues loom. Where we can make mistakes without risking embarrassment or fear; where we can try out new ideas (even if they’re lousy ones) and gain confidence along the way.”
Over five years ago, a friend and I gathered five women together and created WHEW: Women Helping and Empowering Women. When we meet every two weeks to talk about our lives, we each have different qualities, perspectives and insights to offer. We don’t try to solve problems for one another, but we ask questions, offer suggestions, and remind one another of what we’ve learned before. There is a depth of support in having the total focus of the team on each individual in turn. Members of the group love the opportunity to be there for one another, and each one asks for the support she needs. I have also interviewed many men’s teams with similarly strong bonds of mutual support.
There is a world of difference between the communication that happens in social conversation, and the deep listening and response that happens with people who have established trust and know one another well. Multiply that by the power of a group dedicated to the support and progress of each member, and the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. To learn more about such groups, you can read my blog posts about Happiness Teams, or download the Happiness Team Starter Kit from this website.