As our women’s group was having a group hug to end our session one Friday evening, we were all reminded of how grateful we are for our team. Women Helping and Empowering Women describes us pretty well, but it’s too cumbersome a name, so we shortened it to WHEW. To get to know one another as quickly as possible, we started out our first meeting five years ago by each giving a summary of our life story. At that time, we developed our first ground rule: when one person is sharing, everyone’s focus is totally on them. The rest of us ask questions or offer ideas, but we don’t interject our stories into their time.
WHEW decided from the outset that in order to get the most growth from our time together, we would read some outstanding personal growth books. Mining the gems from a chapter or two per session, we find that each book has ideas we come back to again and again. Our first book, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, gave us a good foundation for identifying what is most important to each of us. Eight years and several excellent books later, we’re now on a Brené Brown marathon. We got so much out of The Gifts of Imperfection that we’re going back now to read her earlier book I Thought it Was Just Me. If you don’t know Brené Brown’s work, check out her outstanding TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability. It gives a good introduction to her ideas.
So how does a typical meeting go for WHEW? We meet in one another’s homes every couple of weeks, starting out with appies and dinner while we catch up informally. Discussion of the latest chapter in our book usuallly happens over dinner or after everyone has their sharing time. After dinner, we get the timer out and start our individual sharing by dividing the available time by 5, making sure that each person has equal time to talk, with a bit extra if needed. Periodically we schedule our meetings a few months in advance, do some planning for our fall or spring retreats, or plan a social event together. But the heart of each meeting is each person talking about what is going on in her life, perhaps focusing on a goal she wants to set or an issue she is working on.
WHEW is just one women’s group, and women’s groups are just one kind of Happiness Team. I’ve found them quite different from the men’s groups I’ve been interviewing. In future posts, I’ll share about some of the men’s groups, as well as a mixed men and women’s group that meets over the phone each week. Do you know about a group of people that’s meeting regularly to make their lives go better? If so, I’d love to hear about it, or to know a contact person I could talk to. I see this blog as a place for us to pool our ideas on how to enrich our lives. Thanks for being a part of the discussion!