Hello Pathways Connect Leaders,
Over the past couple months, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of connecting with many of you regarding your gatherings. I’ve enjoyed learning about the uniqueness of each group, and have been inspired by your passion to embrace, encourage and empower parents who have made conscious parenting choices based on the research they have found.
What I have found as a Pathways Connect Coordinator is that those who gain the most from these gatherings will have the most to give. Effective groups are emerging that benefit office growth and receive wonderful stories from attendees because they are successfully filling a very real need in their community.
I have also found that many Connect Leaders often feel that they have to “be the teacher” and give to the “students.” When I first started running my Pathways Connect Gatherings I felt an enormous pressure to entertain, bring value, keep things flowing, and “teach” something important to everyone who came. It was actually a draining experience for me, and not at all something I looked forward to doing.
If you are running a Connect Gathering and it feels like a draining obligation, I want to encourage you to consider your group a place for YOU to gain support as well. The wonderful truth is that we are all teachers and students, each with something to give and take from every experience.
I quickly realized, early on, that if I was going to continue with my efforts I was going to do so with no pressure, because I wanted this to be a place where I could feel embraced, encouraged and empowered as well. By creating an atmosphere that I enjoyed, I was creating one that everyone around me enjoyed and that’s when things began to pick up.
I would like to share with you three things I recommend to anyone who has concerns about how to keep things moving even if no one engages. They’re simple ideas and can drastically change a group dynamic.
- Be human
Nothing engages people more than getting to know you as their peer. You can begin each meeting with an ice breaker. “What was your favorite parenting moment this month?” And then tell your own encouraging story. Or “what was an interesting parenting challenge for you?” and share something you’re struggling with. Even if you’re not a parent, you can still open up and share your own personal joys and struggles in order to connect with your group. Let them know you’re on their level.
- Pick topics that interest you.
Every Pathways magazine is bursting with intriguing topics, and it is well worth flipping through the pages for that one article that really draws you in and sticks with you all day. I have yet to receive a Pathways magazine that doesn’t have at least one article that is literally life changing for me. When I run a group on a topic that speaks to me it transfers easily to everyone present.
- Ask for advice!
I often use my group of incredible moms to sort out my own parenting qualms. As the Leader of your group, you are setting the example for what that group can be for everyone else. If you want the parents in your group to feel that it is a safe place for them to ask questions, to share challenges, and to rejoice over successes, you can create that atmosphere by doing so yourself.
I’ve really enjoyed connecting with all of you, brainstorming new ways to grow and bring more value to your community and your office. If your Pathways Connect Gatherings ever feel overwhelming instead of empowering for you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can schedule a free phone session to discuss ways to change that. Building this tribe begins with you.