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15 min

Warm up, catch up, and get going!

Step 1: Icebreaker

Group activity

5 minutes or less

An icebreaker is a powerful tool to help us become present with one another and ourselves.

Use this icebreaker to set your intention for the Circle meeting.

  • When have you felt a strong sense of purpose in your work? In 30 seconds or less, share your experience with the group.

Step 2: Member Updates

Group activity

1 min (or less) per member

Once you’re warmed up, go around your Circle and share personal updates. As a general rule, personal updates should be brief and focus on big changes and important decisions in your life. (It’s OK not to have one every month!)

If you have a One Action update, share that with your Circle at the same time. (A One Action is one concrete action you committed to take at your last meeting; the goal of a One Action is to step outside your comfort zone or practice a new skill.)

For example, a member update might go like this: “Since our last meeting, I asked my boss for a big assignment and got it. I’m thrilled but a little nervous [personal update]. For my One Action, I asked that coworker I’ve been struggling with out for lunch. She immediately said yes, and I was surprised by how easily we got along. I can see it helping in the office, and we’re going out for lunch again next week—her invite! [One Action update].”

Education Activities

Group activity

60 min

Learn from experts and one another.

Activity 1: Discuss your reactions to the talk

Group activity

Approx. 20 minutes

Reflect on these questions with your Circle:

  1. What most surprised you about Leah’s talk?
  2. Did any of the experiences she describes really resonate with you? What were those experiences, and how do they relate to your life?
  3. What’s one key takeaway from her talk that you’d like to share with someone else? With whom would you share it?

Activity 2: Define your purpose

Group activity

Approx. 15 minutes

Step 1: Perform a top-down assessment of your purpose

Group activity, 5 minutes or less

Write down the five to ten values that matter most to you.

Go around your Circle and share the top three.

Step 2: Conduct a bottom-up assessment of your purpose

Group activity, 5 minutes or less

Think for a moment about how you’d tell your life story in 3 minutes or less.

  • Then, find a partner in your Circle.
  • Tell your life story to your partner.
  • Have your partner tell you the three values that they think embody your story.
  • Switch roles and repeat.

Does the new information from your partner inform your sense of your own values? Edit them accordingly.

Activity 3: Write your personal mission statement

Individual activity

Approx. 20 minutes

For this exercise, you’ll need a pen and paper or other writing device. (A computer works if you shut off all other notifications—you’ll need to concentrate!)

  1. List your most important values and beliefs, drawing on what you learned in Step 1 and Step 2.
  2. List the emotions and life challenges that work against you living your values.
  3. List the ways you behave that undermine your ability to live your values (at work or at home or elsewhere). These are the behaviors you want to avoid. Example: Procrastination when anxious.
  4. Turn these three lists into a statement—a sentence that summarizes your goals.

Here is Leah’s personal mission statement as an example:

Mission Statement: I will work to find compassion for myself and others through finding purpose for all that I do and avoiding the things (stress, fatigue, bottling up emotions) that work against that purpose.

List 1: compassion, purpose, honesty, equality

List 2: stress, anxiety, fatigue

List 3: rehashing old problems, not moving forward, avoiding real emotions and issues

How to use your statement: Write out or print your statement and place it somewhere you can see it.

You can also treat the statement as a draft and revisit it in a few days or weeks, and expand on it if you see new ways to do so.

You might notice that your goals change from one month or year to the next, and that’s okay. Personal mission statements aren’t set in stone. What’s important are the steps you go through to craft your statement (reflecting, writing) and that you have one. In all things, at all times, you can always look at your statement and remember that you have purpose.

Activity 4: Conduct a time-to-purpose audit

Individual/Group activity

Approx. 15 minutes

This exercise involves looking at your calendar to see if you’re living your values.

Write out your one to three most important big-picture goals or values. Examples:

  • Advance to the next level at work
  • Change career
  • Be a more engaged parent
  • Give back to my community

Then, take out your phone or computer and review your calendar for the last week. How many hours did you spend working toward one of your top goals?

  • For instance, say it’s important to you to advance to the next level at work. How many hours of the last week did you spend learning skills or networking to help you get there?
  • Or if it’s important to you to spend time with your family, how many hours in the last week did you do this?
  • Write down this number for each of your goals.

Is there a mismatch between your goals and the time you’re spending on them? As a group, brainstorm what gets in the way and think of how you can devote more time to your goals.

Activity 5: Turn a work task into a calling

Individual activity

Approx. 10 minutes

You can make any work task feel more satisfying if you reframe it as part of your personal calling.

  • Pick a task from your calendar, such as going to a meeting, giving a talk.
  • Then think about it as just a routine part of your job.
  • Then ask yourself, “How does it advance my career?”
  • Then ask yourself, “How does this task advance my values and goals?”

For each step, make notes about your mental state. How does your feeling about the task change when you think about it in each of these three ways? Are you more or less excited about it? Does it change your sense of joy and purpose?

Optional: Try doing this with a whole day of tasks.

Activity 6: Use compassion at work

Individual/Group activity

Approx. 10 minutes

When we have compassion for others, it creates a more inclusive workplace and makes us less biased toward co-workers. This exercise will help you be compassionate toward someone who is making your working life difficult:

  • Bring your difficult colleague to mind. Imagine her outside of work—for instance, interacting with her husband or children or walking in nature.
  • Imagine possible insecurities or life disappointments that led to behaviors you find bothersome.
  • Assume that she acts with the best intentions. Think about ways that behaviors that bother you might stem from good motives.
  • Think of people who care about her, such as family members who rely on her.
  • What behaviors does she have that you appreciate? (For instance, her sense of humor, her ability to get things done.)
  • Can you imagine meeting her outside of work for the first time and enjoying her company?
  • How do you view her now that you’ve finished the exercise? Have your feelings about her changed? Does her behavior seem less bothersome?

Share how you felt before and after the exercise with your Circle.

Activity 7: Treat yourself with self-compassion

Individual/Group activity

Approx. 15 minutes

In her video, Leah talks about the two arrows: the first arrow is the challenge you’re facing, and the second arrow is the ways you criticize yourself or talk negatively to yourself about the challenge.

This activity helps you learn how to resist the second arrow when you meet challenges in your life. Research shows that when people minimize the second arrow, their resilience goes up significantly.

  • Identify your first arrow. Take a specific example of a struggle you are currently experiencing. It could be physical pain, financial stress, or perhaps a relationship challenge. Fill in the box with a very brief description of what this first arrow is.
  • Identify your second arrow. Fill in the second box identifying the follow-on arrow: How are your criticizing yourself or putting yourself down in relation to this challenge?
  • Share what you’ve learned with the group. Go around the Circle and describe your first and second arrows. Telling others can reinforce what you’ve learned and help you internalize your new self-awareness.
  • Use that self-awareness. Going forward, in your daily life, remind yourself to notice when you start shooting yourself with the second arrow. This awareness can reduce the impact of your self-criticism.

One Action

Group activity

5 min

The little push you need to go for it

We recommend you close every meeting by committing to a “One Action”—one concrete thing you’re going to do before your next Circle meeting to step outside your comfort zone or practice a new skill.

This time, you might commit to engaging men in conversations about bias.

Share your One Action with your Circle
One by one, go around your Circle and complete the following statement:

  • Over the next month, I commit to _________

Move quickly from member to member, and consider cheering one another on as you go.


Group activity

Approx. 15 minutes

What’s next and a few final words

Step 1: Finalize logistics of your next meeting

Group activity

Approx. 10 minutes

Before you break, make sure you have the basics covered for your next meeting, including day and time, location, and food and drink responsibilities. Decide what you’re going to do when you get together or who is going to send out ideas. You may also want to talk through what worked—and what didn’t—in today’s meeting so you can brainstorm improvements going forward.

Step 2: Close on an energetic and inspirational note

Group activity

5 minutes or less

Think of one small moment of joy you can plan for this week. Go around your Circle one by one and share what you’ll do.