It was a very short email: Dear Monika, unfortunately I cannot participate in our WOL Circle tomorrow. Greetings. I frowned. A slight uneasiness gripped me. What had happened? Why couldn’t she participate – she who hadn’t even missed one circle since the beginning? And then just such a short message? My concern grew. Had something happened?
I stopped for a moment. So I was worried about a person I only knew virtually – with the exception of a brief impersonal encounter at a conference. Who obviously meant something to me. Like the other 3 Circle members – I would have had the same thoughts with everyone. What was it that connected us in such a way that everyone left a gap when he or she was away?
Ten weeks ago we were strangers. We knew each other’s names, in which organization we worked, and our motivation to join a WOL Circle. Accordingly, the first two meetings were still a little stiff. We had to get to know each other first, and as a moderator I tried to make sure that everyone was heard and felt safe to express themselves. It was an advantage not to know anything about each other, not to have a common history. Without ballast, it was all about the essentials: To try out „Working Out Loud“ together, to approach something new. And that was the first tie: curiosity, willingness to experiment and also a little courage. None of us knew exactly what the next 12 weeks would bring.
Soon we learned more about each other. Yes, of course, the famous exercise „50 facts“ from week 5 was part of it. There were funny similarities, exciting information and unexpected facets in the lives of others. But more important were the discussions about one’s own attitude towards online presence, about generosity and empathy, about approaching somebody and how one wants to be treated by others. The opinions of the other circle members, their experiences, personal stories and inputs became so important that in week 9 it was asked: „Are we sharing the top ten resources?“
So we learned from and with each other, took smaller and larger steps towards our goal with mutual support, and took from WOL what was suitable for each one of us. With mutual respect and shared joy at everything that worked out and happened. It was an experience that only we shared and that connected us. Us, five strangers, who now had a common experience. And who knew each other in a way that only a WOL Circle could offer.
With growing confidence came self-confidence and the desire to contribute on one’s own initiative. It didn’t need me as a presenter anymore. My only tasks were to organize the virtual meeting, to ask the introductory question, and maybe from time to time to bring the discussion to the next exercise. The circle had grown up, had reached the flow. Simply perfect!
It was nothing, by the way. Nothing bad, just a time when WOL couldn’t find a place at short notice. We agreed on a new time on another day to hold the next circle meeting. It was important to everyone that as many participants as possible could be there. Otherwise there was this gap again, this lack of opinion on the next exercise, the lack of perspective on the topic of the week.
Soon the circle will be over. It is already clear to me that I do not want to lose sight of these participants, that I am curious about what WOL would do in their lives and that I will miss the weekly exchange. Thank you, dear Circle Members, for the mutual trust and the exciting journey together!
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator followed by some modifications. Photo by Jorge Flores on Unsplash