This exercise transforms your life. It has you do the first three steps of the Method, prepares you for the fourth, and sets up accountability with others for step 4. Accountability is how things get done, so it can help a lot.
I do this exercise halfway through my seminar. People get deeply into it, even after sitting in a room for five or six hours. When we review the exercise people sometimes tell me it gave them their first experience ever sharing some problems, then finding themselves surprised to find simple solutions to them.
Requirements (or good-to-haves)
You can do the exercise alone, but I prefer to group people into three to five. Everyone should know the Model and the Method. Preferably you’ve prepared with these three exercises (1, 2, 3) which you can do individually. I do those first three exercises in the seminar before reaching this one, so you might do them yourself first too.
Form groups (ideally 3-5). Doing it with fewer people takes less time but more people gives you more perspective. You can do it alone, but not as effectively because outside perspectives and discussion help.
Each person takes a turn sharing a situation in their life they want to improve. I call the person sharing the speaker and the others the advisers. The speaker describes the relevant environments, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. Advisers generally have to ask questions to understand the speaker’s situation.
It helps if the speaker describes any relevant constraints, but you don’t have to get them all now. Any relevant ones you miss will come up in later steps. If they don’t come up, they aren’t relevant.
This exercise summarizes how to do step 2 in more detail with examples.
The advisers suggest new environments, beliefs, emotions and behaviors.
Generally their first suggestions won’t work for the speaker, so this part becomes interactive and iterative. The speaker says what advice he or she things would work or not. The advisers offer new suggestions, share why something the speaker didn’t think would work may work, share how such things worked for them, and so on.
Eventually the speaker ends up with a plan to implement the Method, based on understanding and an outside perspective.
This exercise summarizes how you would do step 3 by yourself, which can help here. Doing it alone doesn’t give you outside perspectives or discussion, which make today’s exercise more effective when you have other people to do it with.
Clarify and refine.
Once you have the general plan, refine it to actionable, measurable steps. This step can take time, but people in my seminars tell me this part benefits them most — in both the speaker and adviser role.
In the adviser role they get to see how easily others can change their lives if only they open themselves to the change. They also get to hear how others advise someone on the same issue. Since two people rarely give the same advice, their different advice enlightens you too.
In the speaker role they are forced to clarify their problems and force the advisers to make their advice meaning to them. Since you play the adviser role either just before or after, you realize you see you have to open yourself up. Seeing others open themselves to change (it’s so easy to see how easily others can change, but that helps you here) makes it easier for you to.
Create accountability and share contact information.
Things get done that you are accountable for. So once each participant has a plan, create accountability. That means creating a set of deliverables on your implementation plan, creating a schedule to meet those deliverables, sharing contact information with each other, and creating a schedule to contact each other on your plan.
Your life change dictates how often you contact each other. Typically people contacting each other weekly or monthly until their progress takes root. As I’m writing this post I’m in the middle of a plan where a friend and I text each other daily for thirty days. We haven’t missed a check-in, neither of us has missed his daily tasks, and we’re doing great.
Step 5 makes you realize all the previous steps. I recommend not skipping it.
Read my weekly newsletter
Subscribe for a weekly update of musings on leadership, the environment, and burpees.