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This week in meetings I’ve been posting a flip chart with the question: “Where are you?”
As a group facilitator, it isn’t always easy to know where people stand in terms of their sense of accomplishment or discouragement. WeightWatchers thoughtfully assigns specific discussion topics each week, but they’ll fall flat if members of a particular group are focused on something else.
To help people answer my rather vague question, I offered some ideas:
- Just getting started
- On my way
- Unexpected Detour
- Taking the Scenic Route
Then I asked everyone to write it down.
You see, as an old-school writer, I feel strongly that words on paper have more impact than thoughts in our heads, and even more than digital bits on a screen. In fact, tonight someone remarked “Until I wrote this down, I didn’t realize that I was on the ‘scenic route’ in my journey.”
My number one goal in facilitating meetings is to help people achieve a healthy weight through long-term realistic behavior changes. But that doesn’t mean I expect everyone to be in the groove all the time, losing weight and cruising along.
So it’s a delicate balance. On the one side, I want to offer an encouraging space to talk about strategies, plans, actions and progress. On the other, I want to make sure that everyone who shows up feels valued, even if they are discouraged, angry, or frustrated.
In every meeting I’ve done this week, the group was a mix. Had I not done this particular exercise, however, I might not have been able to pick up on that. March is an interesting time where we have a lot of January joiners who are at a critical juncture — some are moving forward and sticking with it, while others are just about to abandon ship.
While I can’t stop anyone from throwing in the towel, I hope this week that I at least gave everyone the chance to realize that there is no right or wrong way to be successful. Every step of the journey —even “Lost and Confused” —is okay. The trick is to keep on keepin’ on, even when it seems pointless and hard.
I’m glad that this week I heard from a lot of determined and happy people, too. That makes me feel like I’m actually presiding over a process that works for people, and easing their entry into smarter choices and healthier strategies. Their success inspires me to keep going and keep trying to give back.
Bottom line, it helps to know where you are. And as I like to say “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know if you ever get there?”