At FreelanceLab earlier this year, I encouraged the group to start peer groups after the event to encourage each other and help each other.
I’m calling this concept 4x4s Journey Groups.
It’s simple: Four people, meeting for four weeks, to share experiences and encouragement that mutually help each other reach their destination.
This is a BETA concept and a rough draft based on experiences I’ve had in similar groups. You’ll want to adjust, tweak, add, subtract, change to fit your group. (However, I’d love to hear what works, what doesn’t and the results!)
Here are my rough draft thoughts on what the 4x4s could be and do:
The Goal of a 4×4 Group
- To get support and encouragement from like-minded people on the same journey
- To share your successes (only for each other’s benefit, not ego) and struggles (to know you’re not alone, and so you can get unstuck and make progress on your goals by taking with like-minded people who are going through what you are)
- To share parallel experiences, thoughts, ideas, practices that will help others grow and succeed.
- Always keep it simple and easy as possible to keep going.
- Start with 4 people, meeting for 4 weeks, 1 hour a week. Then at the end, see if you’re all ready to re-up for another 4 weeks. It keeps it simple and short without a long-term commitment.
- Meet at Friday at noon (Pick a time zone and convert it for everyone) …. or a time convenient for you.
- Find 3 other like-minded people to join this group to walk with you, share experiences of what has worked, what hasn’t, to provide encouragement and support.
- You need a leader, someone responsible for herding the cats. If you haven’t been recruited already, tag, you’re the leader, responsible for recruiting, scheduling presenters (and the Google Hangout or whatever you use), followups, and reminders. If leader is too strong of a word, you’re the “moderator” or “wrangler.”
Recruiting & Choosing Members
- Find people who have a common vision and goals, interests, personalities … and are on a similar journey as you. Diversity of experiences is good sometimes, but you need to be on the same or similar path and like-minded.
- Absolute confidentiality required, no exceptions. What is shared in the group, stays private unless explicitly said otherwise by the person’s information it is. In other words, I am under no pressure to share someone else’s story. It is theirs, not mine.
Here’s a sample, simple member agreement:
By Joining, I agree to …
- Show up … and show up on time or, actually, EARLY, because your time is just as valuable as mine.
- Share openly, honestly, genuinely, generously
- Treat each other like equals, putting aside ego and pride for this group. We are joining together because we want to help each other succeed greatly.
- Keep all things mentioned in group times private and confidential by default.
- Share from my parallel experiences (both failures and success) before giving straight out advice. (It’s easier to tell someone else what to do because we aren’t invested in their situation. But life is grey and every circumstance different. By sharing from our parallel experiences, we can share what went well and what didn’t and why and let the person listening glean their own truth from it.)
Group Survey — sent to all and answers are replied to all so everyone has an idea of what each other’s goals and struggles are:
- What are your goals – get as specific as you can. i.e. By Dec. 31, 2015, I want to be full-time in my business, and making $X,XXX a month.
- What is the biggest obstacle you’re facing to achieve this?
- What is the biggest issue/question keeping you up at night?
The results of these should be the first presentations you give.
- Group Themes — the survey will likely turn up similar themes that the group is experiencing and could provide topical meetings instead of just one person presenting. For instance, “Finding better clients” could be a recurring theme with the group. Take one session and devote it to those theme topics. Submit it for discussion, creative ideas, experiences, learning resources for that meeting. If you go topical, be sure to give the group a couple of days notice so they can be prepared and have time to think about them.
Sample Agenda to Tweak
- Each week – one person gets to present a challenge, issue, obstacle, problem to the group for feedback, experience share and help. In 4x4s, each person gets to present once during the four week.
(Times are just examples/guidelines. Although I think it’s imperative to focused and to have an agenda, you should also have the flexibility to adjust if needed and based on group’s decisions and needs.)
- 5 minutes — Setup, Welcomes, Intros
- 10 Minutes — Presenter shares question, challenge, issue
- 5 Minutes — Group asks clarifying questions
- 30 Minutes — Go around the circle, sharing parallel experiences that could be helpful for the person (successes and failures — what’s worked, what hasn’t). Might be good to give each person 5 minutes and set a timer so each person has the opportunity to share
- 5 Minutes — Wrap-up & Clarifying Questions by Presenter
- 5 Minutes — Talk about the next meeting; confirmation of schedule, presenter, time, etc.
Being on Time / Ending on Time
- Show up early. Do NOT be late. Everyone’s time is valuable, not just yours. Being late says you’re selfish and don’t care about other’s time.
- End at the agreed upon time. Followups can be done one on one or via email.
- Be prepared and ready in advance. Start preparing early before your presentation.
- Work on your question/issue beforehand to make it clear in your own mind. Think about the specific experiences from other members that will best help you.
- If you need help, ask someone in your group to coach you beforehand.
I’d Like Your Feedback on 4×4 Groups
I’d love to get your feedback and thoughts and results on how these groups go, so that we can continue to tweak the concept and help others with peer groups like these (what works, what doesn’t, etc.). Post them here in the comments, or send me an email here.
Founder of iThemes.com