How to Form Your Discussion Groups

After years of experience in dealing with our discussion groups we’ve found a few helpful hints that we’d love to share with you. They may be helpful to you as you’re forming your discussion group.

Although there aren’t any rules that you must follow, there are things that will certainly help make your group a productive learning experience.

Although each group will be unique there are certain things that will enhance the group and others that will distract from the group. As you are contemplating the chemistry of your group keep in mind the nature of the information you may be willing to share. Be likewise mindful of the quality of the people you might be willing to trust with that information. You wouldn’t want to tell your life’s secrets to total strangers and hope that it won’t get to ears that you never wanted to hear the information. Use prudence!

As you are forming your group it would be helpful if there were pre-existing trust factor, some commonness of purpose, ideology, basic belief system, economic goals and aspirations, and moral values. A common faith may be a positive factor, but not necessarily so. In addition you want men that aspire to better themselves and by joining the group. Upholding character and integrity must be the first rule. If not then the group will not be as successful as possible. A few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch.

AGE

We find that diversity in age is a very positive factor in forming your discussion group. It is difficult for “the blind to lead the blind” and for youth to possess deep wisdom of life that they’ve never personally experienced. Diversity in age gives you the same picture from different prospective(s). It’s not that one is right and the other wrong, but that they see the same picture differently based upon their exposure. Some older men get set in their ways and sometime stuck (in ignorance) on the wrong side of knowledge. Some younger men think they know it all and haven’t had any life experience to justify their cocky opinions. Bringing these two patterns together in a spirit of co-sharing and learning adds a new awareness and growth.

MEMBERS:

Although there is no set number of members that is ideal, we like smaller groups that are capable of allowing each of the members to express themselves on each point that they would care to express an opinion. Where there are too many members some may feel restricted or inhibited in expressing their opinions. Depending upon the chemistry of the members some men like to hoard the conversations, some like to dwell upon their misery, some like to hear themselves talk, some may be shy, and such. By keeping the group relatively small, (around a dozen or so, but less than two dozen) each member can become a vital part of the group. If the group is too large to fit into a home setting it also creates other problems like finding a place to meet. If you have access to a large facility and a large number of males, then this may not be a major factor.

APPOINTING A LEADER

Even though each of the members should feel equal, it is necessary to appoint a leader to conduct each meeting and to serve as the moderator. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the same person each meeting but each meeting needs only one moderator who is respected as the leader for that day for the sake of keeping order.

We suggest that you alternate the moderator position for each lesson so each member can experience what it feels like to moderate and keep the discussion lively while under control. Most males have a different style of leading that adds something unique to the mystic of the meetings. If a member is not good at moderating they should excuse themselves from the (moderator) position because their leadership could negatively impact the group meeting and allow a sour experience if the discussions get out of control. Whoever is selected for the meeting moderator should be given the gavel in order to exercise orderly control over the meeting. Each member should agree to respect the “CHAIR” as part of the group’s “procedure of operation.” Not agreeing to uphold order in a receipt for disaster and for destroying the integrity of the group.

FOLLOWING THE WORKBOOK

Each member should have his individual workbook. The cost of the book is minimum but if a member does not want to commit to paying $10 for the cost of the book, then that is not a sign of commitment to make changes in their lives. This does not mean that other members cannot advance the cost of the book for another member, but one should want to pay the cost for his own self-improvements. If someone were reluctant to participating I wouldn’t want him to be a part of my group. Each member should make a commitment to help each other to become the best they can be. If that is not the motto then why meet? Each member should fully fill out his workbook according to what is right for him, not what others may call right. There is no scoring system for pass or fail. It is only about individual improvement.

The workbook does not have to be discussed in the order written. However, we would suggest that you fully exhaust each lesson completely before starting a new one. As you complete one lesson then pre-agree upon the next topic to discuss and who will be the group moderator for that lesson.

COMMON COURTESY

If at any point during a meeting you find yourself acting in ways that you know your mom would disapprove of if she were watching you on a monitor screen, then that behavior would probably go against common decency and common courtesy. Be courteous to your fellow members even if it takes some restraint on your part. This group is not about ego shinning or self-glorification. Be nice, be decent, and just be courteous with your fellow group members.

HOW TO OPEN EACH MEETING

With most groups the opening may be with some sort of nondenominational prayer to bring the hearts and minds of the members together in a spirit of unity. You may also decide to open with the Pledge of Allegiance or a joke of the day in order to inject laughter. Whatever the group determines as an appropriate opening is what each group should practice. We only suggest that some form of opening to the meeting is done in order to bring unity of mind and spirit to the meeting.

Each particular chapter (lesson) of the workbook has an opening narrative. This was intended to bring focus upon the topic at hand. This opening message to the lessons could be read to the group if desired or paraphrased if desired, or you (the Moderator) may decide to create your unique opening that brings focus to the topic at hand. We are not interested in creating robots, but instead we are attempting to get men in an atmosphere conducive to discussing important topics for the purpose of making substantial changes in their lives.

PRIMARY GOAL (MISSION STATEMENT)

This program is not suggested to be a cure-all for the severity of the issues many males face. Our goal is only to do what we can to make a small dent in what we see as a major problem. We are very concerned at the status of the male role and how it appears to be diminishing according to statistics and public opinion. Even the workbook wasn’t designed in a super sophisticated manner that will enhance subliminal changes in the unsuspecting subjects. It contains simple question designed to promote deep discussions. You will more than likely come up with more discussion points as you venture into each lesson. We want to open the door to change, but the degree of change or improvements is solely up to the individual group members. Some will gain greatly and some little. If you apply yourself to the fullest you will gain greatly. If not, then you only get in what you are willing to dish out. We are all about “men helping men to become better men.” There is no other hidden agenda.

Your group will become as good as your weakest member. If all members become strong then multiply yourself by the number of your members and see how great that multiplies you as an individual. If you are not willing to give it your full participation then perhaps you may not want to pull down other members of the group who would really love to count on your full strength. Stepping out if you are not ready to fully participate may be good for the group, but it may also be a sign of personal failure to the individual. You must decide when you are ready for real change: ready to become what we call a “real man.”

{NOTE: YOU MAY WANT TO COME UP WITH A UNIQUE MISSION STATEMENT AND A UNIQUE NAME FOR YOUR GROUP}

With time we will be posting more resources on our website. We will post blogs where you may comments online and express your opinions to other established groups. We are in process of establishing “Real Men Professional Groups” and networking for those who want to take this up to a higher level. The sky is the limit, and beyond…

Enjoy your group!

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