Develop the Culture MORE than the vision!

Vision is Direction, Culture is HOW it is played out... 

Dear Small Group leader...Establish a culture in your small group that is...(Culture is that consistent ingredient that is present all the time and must be caught, more than taught!  People will catch it from YOU! You play it out over and over)

#1  Safe  

Never forget people are arriving in bad shape.  They are coming to see if MAYBE THIS TIME?  They are broken and full of shame and they've lost hope in themselves.  Some arrive with self-loathing right under the surface.  They'll be quick to tell you THIS WON'T WORK... I encourage you to consider what you needed to feel safe and build that into the culture of your group.

#2 Encouraging

We offering an encouraging word, "Come on, it's not that hard, if I can you can too". What encouraged you in those early days, BE THAT encouragement to others.

#3 Helpful

This is how you do this and this, now you try.  As soon as you can, get them up on their feet doing for themselves.  It's a culture of trusting them, where they don't trust them selves.  Invite them to see it through your eyes.''You can DO this, come on, trust me on this"...

 

It's all about giving, not getting!

Dear Small group leader!  

Remember back in the day when you came to the meeting to see what you could get.  You'd not yet transitioned into giving.  Maybe you were scared to put it out there?  Maybe you were only able to see your own need and you missed others around you.  Maybe you had not found your own voice that adds value, yet.

We are hosting small group not to get but to give.  We are opening up our stories and our lives, to give from not get.  We're not building a platform we can dance around on, we're making a place for others to rise up and tell their story.

When people either come forth or are called on, as soon as they starts speaking, THE BETTER...Then the collective lift up the meeting.  We want that.  It's a burden to be the one carrying...so reach out and ask for others to share, and carry the meeting too!

It's a big step towards rehabilitating themselves when they rise up and take on a piece of the moment.  You can see fear, their fear and then you can see their relief and finally you see their victory...then they shine...We want to see the shine!  It makes it brighter for everyone!

Prepare to be upstaged, stepped on by accident and outshined!  I look for it every single meeting.  Inside I'm begging..."Come on, speak to me people, take it off me people...."  Some body?

Dear Leader their struggles are real

Oh dear leader, when they struggle...it's so hard.

Right now I've got a few people who are in the struggle...I've rolled up my sleeves and gone to some and had others come to me.  It FEELS like everything that can be shaken is shaking!!!

What is a leader to do?

#1 Secure THY self!

Are your feet on solid ground, is your plate secure?  Are you sleeping well?  Are you in relationships that feed you. Can you put aside your own disappointment and BE THERE for them? (We have to continually pray and release our own emotions of disappointment and even anger, after all we've invested so much, HOW DARE THEY?)

 

When difficult news comes my way carefully put on a neutral facial expression.  I do NOT want to make it worse than it already is.  *Remember someone is being honest and they are very very vulnerable at that moment.  You want this!  You want the door to stay open!  How you handle this will make or break the relationship.

#2 Prepare your Response:Remarks to consider:

"I know you are hurting so much right now".  I say  "THIS" (not you are) is a very disappointing moment.  Thank you so much for being honest, is shows such respect for our relationship.  Give it a moment, let that settle.  They need to feel their pain, but I'm not going to dump mine on them and neither are you. No babying them either.  Just be still.

#3 You must put Clear direction before them...they are lost in this moment!

Ok, I say, "now we need to begin to shift to the positive.  Help them determine "The things YOU CAN DO NOW".  I ask them for 7-10 days of daily reporting back to me or another.  Daily accountability is a forward step.  I ask them their plan of action. They must create as much of it as they can.  NIX something like, "I'll go to the gym 3 times a day to make up for this!!!"  NIX-THAT...it's not normal, so it can't be sustained and soon will be another failure!  They need to learn how to REBUILD THEIR SITUATION AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

INVITE THEM TO RISE UP AND GO DO SOMETHING THEY'D BE PROUD OF!  Focus on the positive, on the ability to move on.  Most don't know they HAVE to move on, or they'll just get stuck and eat...for who knows how long.

#4 THE STRUGGLE COULD GET WORSE

Anyone who has slipped off LCHF knows that they've blown the honeymoon.  The comeback is rough and never as pretty as the honeymoon.  But hard work and focus and COMMUNITY SUPPORT can see you through.  

Truthfully it's exhausting to make a comeback!  Acknowledge it if it comes up.  Keep pointing them towards staying around others, leaning on leadership, serving the group to keep their focus!

 

Dear Small Group Leader, it's not you!

Dear Small Group Leader!

One week there are so many people you can't find a seat for them, and then the next meeting has only a few?  What happened?  What did you do wrong?

THINK NOTHING OF IT...

It's them!  It's not you.  Remember where ever there is a struggle, there is shame, and shame makes us HIDE and often ISOLATE.  Shame is very hard to break out of!  It holds us down and holds us back and we've already lost our confidence and energy to press through.  (This is where you send a note card, "You can do this!" or make a coffee date).  This is where you might show that you care!  FInd your own way of saying, "We're still here for you!"

We set the stage, turn on the lights, open the door and sometimes it's the best meeting in the world and other times it's barely attended.  There are always EBBS and FLOWS, don't tie your emotions up in this!

LEADER:

Do NOT take it personally!   DO NOT MAKE IT PERSONAL or you will not survive small groups!  You are the facilitator, and are there to serve!  Not create a little kingdom unto thy self!  Detach just a little bit.  

TIME LINE

When planning to start a small group, set up a time limit.  "This group will be a 3month group, a 4 week group, a 12 week group.  Set a start and end date.  When you reach the end, if it's going well RESET the time limit.  If it's going bad, well at least it's over now!  I've had good groups and not so good groups.  I was sad when a few ended and deeply relieved when others did.  Because of the TIME FRAME, I never had to cancel, quit or abandon a group!  

CULTIVATE BIG PICTURE MENTALITY

"I'm here if they want help!  My door is always open, come as you are! I have a topic to equip them with."  "No matter what you do, for these 12 weeks I WILL BE HERE to welcome you! "  Set your mind on what you will do regardless of what they do!

WE MAY NEVER KNOW!

We may NEVER know the impact we've had.  Learn to walk on regardless of feedback!  Learn to simply follow through and be ok with no feedback!  That's hard, I know.  But I've never waited around for the praise!  I've kept my head up and kept moving!  We will Never know the impact we've had!  Often times it's little snippets that come back to people later and it changes their course.  Some will tell you, and I promise you one thing, someone will tell you one day, and you'll be like,, "Wow!  I had no idea"...Keep to the determinations in your heart!    

"I will be there!"

"No matter what you do, I will ___________"

"My door is always open!"

"We will meet from this date, til this date"

"Wow, thanks for sharing I had no idea!"

 

Small Groups are a BIG deal!

We've stuck our necks out there!!!  Our hearts are attached.  We do take things personally at first and then talk them back into the corner!  It is a roller coaster!  But at the end of the day, SEEDS HAVE BEEN SOWN and have the opportunity to take root!

 

 

 

Dear Small Group leader!

With over 100 groups in 2017 I've seen experienced weekly 1 hour groups to bi monthly hour and a half groups.  I've experienced meeting in living rooms, conference rooms, classrooms, restaurants  kitchens and even a coffee shop!  I would suggest...

Meet twice a month

This is just right!  It's just enough. Weekly is a burden and monthly is too long to go.  Every other week gives every one something!  Always have everyone mark their calendar for the next meeting, early in the meeting.

One hour meeting with open time to be social

A message, interaction and then a mingling time.  10min welcome and get settled, 10-20 min  message and the rest of the time for interaction and discussion.

Group rules

The biggest rule I've ever had to use, is how to deal with those who have cheated.  Cheating is a really delicate situation and if you are going to bring it to the table, you must be willing to bring solutions you are going to commit to.  We want to create a safe place to share, but we don't want to bring the whole meeting down or give it too much exposure.  

Start on time and end on time.  

What is said in the group, stays in the group!

Leaders Guide and Set the tone for others with their response.

When there is a problem, the group will take their cue from the leader.  You must step up and answer first!  Set the tone and pace always.  Find simple ways to keep it positive. Bring the conversation back to "learning and growing" not failure.  Move things along after a few minutes.  Take total charge in the softest of ways.  Be firm when you have to be.

Engage others.  After someone speaks, asking maybe one who is always quiet, "what do you think about that?"  "Has anyone ever been there?"  Sometimes a leader knows how another person's experience can add to the meeting and might ask them on the spot, "share what happened when

 

you did that same thing"...

Leaders lead real people, know your people!

Really listen to people.  Eavesdrop on conversations.  Observe people online.  Keep an eye out and seek to know your people so you can UNDERSTAND them.  Always seek to understand where someone is coming from and what they are saying.  

Correction

All correction should be done privately.  If you have an Asst. take them with you.  Make a phone call.  Always go in the spirit of inquiry.  "Hey are you ok?  You had some strong thoughts at the meeting."  "Maybe it was just me, but I felt like you were angry, is everything ok?"

We often lead by our gut feeling

Not everything is black and white.  There is a lot of gray!  We've all heard, "Well you'd had to have been there to know"...You'll make a lot of decisions in the moment because you picked up on , or knew something others don't or just have an impression"...

Leading is like riding a Roller Coaster

You never quite sure of yourself, you get nervous before, hold on tight during and often are so glad you did it, afterwards!  Sometimes there are high high's!  And dropping screaming lows.  People are not perfect.  No group will be perfect.  A successful meeting is one where your message was clear and people responded to you, the topic and each other.  Somewhere your feelings will get hurt and you might even be crushed!  But you want to forgive and keep the door open and the lights on for when they come back!

Why is my Story so important to tell over and over

Well #1 It's YOUR story.  You lead through your experience.  It's the anecdotal angle.  Anecdotal means "based on your personal account".  Nobody can argue with it either!  They can argue with science, politics and all sorts of details.  But the word of our testimony?  No...Can't be argued with.

Our story is our most non-threatening tool.

#2 That is WHERE people will connect and relate to you from.  People respond not so much to the evidence, as the heart!  Knowing you have failed or struggled with food and shame will make all the difference.  "I can trust them, because they've been there".  

#3 We are dealing with people of shame!  When you are walking around in deep shame over what you have done to yourself, IT IS ALL YOU CAN DO TO GET TO THE MEETING.  Address them personally and they probably will NOT be back.  So you address through your own fears and failures.  It looks like it's all about you, but in actuality you are just simply getting truth out there and NOT ONE ANY ONE PERSON...

I'm a big fan of putting something tough on the table, via my own experiences and leaving it there.  YOU pick it up if it resonates.  Matter a fact, that's how we host!  WE welcome others in, invite them to listen and eat whatever they want from what is offered in a meeting.  Making someone HEAR something,  WILL-NOT-HAPPEN or bring them back!

Another skill I've developed is I don't GO where I've not been given permission!  I will run someone off and I will create an environment that others deem NOT SAFE...I know or sense so much more than I EVER let on.  

I strongly believe this is all by revelation.  When my EYES opened up and I saw my own truth, THAT IS WHAT CHANGED ME....That is not an easy place.  It's like a "coming to your senses" and nobody can do it for you.  

What do I do NOW?

HELP!!!!!

When to call for help? As soon as you need it!

When to Hold back? Always hold back and listen carefully and offer ONLY the next step.  Keep most everything tucked away.  Give a simple one step solution.  It takes the pressure off everything.  Nobody can handle much more than just the next step.

Can we pray at these gatherings?  You can pray if that is the type of group you have set up.  Don't go praying for things at the hospital.  In your home where it's faith based, yes.  Not in a business where it's not that personalized!

Find Your Food Network is WHERE the help is.  We are ready to help you problem solve. WE are Your place for encouragement and support, always!!!

We encourage you to create a group where it is best suits your style!  A home, a coffee shop, a park.  

We encourage you to make it "Faith-based" if you are faith based and sense a "calling" to do that.

We encourage you to customize it according to your group dynamics! If you have attracted 4 or 5 obese out of shape women, going to the gym is not going to appeal!  Always think of "lowering the bar" so more can climb over.  Doing this discretely is paramount!

In 2017 I led over 100 groups in either a church, a home, a hospital or a business setting.  I always led with my story..  I might say "lowcarb" in a home setting and "whole foods" in the hospital. I don't go calling myself an addict in public settings like a business but I always say "I have problems with foods and they are controlling foods in my life".   I kept it always focused on WHAT YOU GET OUT OF THIS DIET...no matter what I called the diet.  I often hold back a name for the diet and say something like, "You're recognize it as an Atkins approach" and yet I often will NOT align myself totally with Atkins, though personally I am.  It's Find YOUR food, not EAT MINE!   ONE mission, MANY languages!  I murmur that everywhere.  

The truth is I've sat for so long with WHAT happened to me and found the broadest way of saying it.  I can share my story in many different ways and I do because I am open to many different settings.

 

Real connection?

What really transpires in a small group?  

Real connection.  When you invited people in to your home, real people came!  As you engage with them, you share your story and they share theirs, a bond slowly starts to form.  One of the things we all need is a place to belong!  People who care and a place to find support and understanding.

I've found all of this in the small group format.

It's really good honest people who open their hope, hearts and help up to others and share their journey and walk with others.  

A small groups opens the door to connect which will lead to real growth!  People growing together as they walk out the changes they've made at their plate.  Often right on the heels of growth is opportunity to serve in a group atmosphere!  When people step up to serve I've seen the most amazing transformation in their own rehabilitation.  

Let's face it, people who have been obese and isolated have put parts of themelves up on the shelf.  They've often disqualified themselves and have let life pass them by.  They are people who have lost faith in themselves.  As they reestablish that faith, they are often given a chance to give back to the group and offer their skills, giftings or service.  This has proven to be so transformative.

I follow a model Connect | Grow | Serve | Lead

It all starts with doing real life together and connecting!

Create a Positive Atmosphere

Create a positive Atmosphere?  Yes and ALWAYS!  That comes from your heart.  You have to believe in 2 major things...Your ability to lead with your story and community will carry the weight if they're allowed to rise up and thrive!  

Your own sense of POSITIVE must always be there, even though people will challenge it. 

#1 You the Leader MUST develop our own sense of hope!  That will come from God.  He's the driving force behind your desire to help others.  Return to him over and over to fill your cup!  DO NOT expect the people to be there for you!  YOU are there FOR them!  You lead out of the OVERFLOW.

#2 People are SLOW to get involved and their silence was the hardest part for me to overcome!  Until people engage it's all on you to carry the hope!  But once there is a trickle of diet success, well it's infectious.

The HARDEST thing and I DO MEAN the hardest thing is WHAT to do about DIET FAILURES, SLIPS, and JUMPS OFF THE WAGON?  How do we handle them publically.  It's been the hardest challenge of all.  ALL FAILURE DISAPPOINTS!  

I have a simple rule that nobody knows about and it's this...If you fail and share it, then you have to also share your solution for getting not only back into compliance but restore momentum!  It took me a long time to figure out what I would do and THAT is it.  You can share, but then you have to link up with someone, you have to share a solution...to restore balance or ALL HOPE IS LOST...I am insisting on restoring hope with solutions.  Taking a negative and shifting to a positive immediately!

This is where community will rise up and dust off the person and give them another chance.  I actually remain very quiet and allow them to rise instead of rush in and fix it so it doesn't destroy all hope.  If the atmosphere starts to head south, I will step in and re-direct us back to the positive.  My number one statement.  "I want you to go do something you will be PROUD OF and report back to the group!"  People can be encouraged and taught how to redirect to a positive.  ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST!

Prepare your Home!

Location, location, location!  If you are going to host a small group at your house...you will need to prepare your home.  If you host a small group at a coffee shop or other location, you need to find the place that is conducive to your goals.

#1 Make the place comfortable!  That means we have to clean our house before people come over!  This is where you make a real investment of your time! Especially if you have young kids.  If your home is NOT comfortable for others they will not flourish in your small group.  Clean it up, make it smell nice and be hospitable.  Just like we put our heart out there, we put our home out there too!

#2 I went to this amazing meet up with some exception Keto people, but it was in an old dive bar!  We were tucked away in a side room.  Thankfully I'd only gone across Atlanta I cannot imagine how the people who came down from the Carolina's felt.  The hostesses were big group leaders in the keto world and had excelled online but were completely OUT of their element one on one.  They coward in the corner!  I was afraid to order because I was concerned about the cleanliness of the bar.  

An example of where I'd go out in public.  I would NOT go to the Starbucks at 120 because it's too small to find space to gather quietly.  It's so popular true, and a great location but no nook or crannie for intimacy.  I would go to Tradewind Coffee for 2 reasons.  #1 There is SPACE and there is a room I can rent for $5.  As the leader I won't have to compete with the public.

Prepare Your heart!

A leader must prepare their own heart. Yes you need to know your story.  You need to remember your own fears and insecurities in an area that was full of failure and shame.  Where ever there is shame, one slowly walks their way into the light...It never happens UNTIL trust is established. 

As the LEADER you go first.  Sharing small snippets from your own real struggles.  A leader answers the question he/she poses first PRIVATLY and then PUBLICALLY.

A leader must prepare their own heart!

 Yes you need to know your story. Remember what a failure you either felt like or were?  How horrible you felt, how unsure you really were even as you began to see success.  As an emerging leader you will have bouts of anxiety and a sense of almost pretending, after all should you be the leader?  I remember being so SURE until you all walked in the room angry and stared at me.  My blood pressure was through the roof!  Ya'll MADE me a leader in that moment.

So remember....

You need to remember your own fears and insecurities in an area that was full of failure and shame.  Where ever there is shame, one slowly walks their way into the light...It never happens UNTIL trust is established. 

Now sit down and write out what you have accomplished since Jan 2017.  Look at how far you honestly have come?  THAT is what you lean on!  You lean on the changes you have made and kept.  Then you quietly step beyond the insecurities and fears.  They will speak just enough truth to get you to listen, but you don't have to agree!

As the LEADER you go first.  Sharing small snippets from your own real struggles.  A leader answers the question he/she poses first PRIVATELY and then PUBLICALLY. 

Lead with your story!  Modify it and tell it in a shorter order.  I've found it helpful to have key points in my story I can pull up to throw out there so that others will relate!  Trust comes from being real!

So prepare your heart to be real!

So you have started a small group?

Congrats you have taken your success and seek to now help others!  Get ready it's like a roller coaster!  You're scared as you wait your turn, it's terrifying all the way through and then you come to the end and are so glad you did it! (Or you puke!)  In 2017 I led a combined total of over 100 small group meetings focused on supporting weight loss in homes, a church and the local hospital. Find Your Food wants to provide a manual for you to start a group at home or maybe at lunchtime at your job!  

#1 Prepare your heart as a leader!

#2 Prepare your home as a leader!

#3Create a positive atmosphere

#4 Remember how you felt on your first night of Yes! Group?

#5 Prepare your heart of them to fail!

#6 How do you really welcome them back without resentment! Or "How do you keep the door open and the lights on?"

#7 Remember A) It's a journey! B) It's by revelation! C) We don't always know what is going on!