Birds of a Feather Flocking Together

I belong to the best little writing group. We meet once a month, reading each other’s work and offering a variety of edits. After offering our words to the group, we dive in like raptors to pounce on weaknesses, sharpen the focus and rip open the plots to reveal weird errors and hidden depths. I fly above the story like an owl, fluffy and slow, getting a feel for the theme and swooping down to adjust and clarify. Our hawk sharply cuts and slices and makes sure our grammar is on-point. (She’s the one who taught me about the em dash.) The raven, our jester, encourages us to move forward, loving our characters, laughing at our jokes, and relishing the beauty of our writing. Others fly in and out, joining us as they are able and adding their skills to our flock.

Criticism is constructive. Comments are nonjudgemental. Encouragement is abundant. Each of us finishes the meeting with a new sense of our stories, a clear goal, and a rejuvenated enthusiasm to return to our craft. We make each other’s work stronger. We hold each other accountable for progress.

And I fall in love with all of the people in my group a little more each time I read their writing. People come and go. We take breaks. The group swirls and moves and re-forms each time a writer leaves us or a new writer joins. But this writing group remains a useful and supportive place.

And here’s the thing—groups do this. These tiny communities of like-minded people support us as we navigate the push and shove of the outside world. On hard days, knowing that we have a built-in group of allies and cheerleaders makes walking our path more enjoyable.

This week, I was trying to explain to a friend what it meant to participate in group coaching, and I realized that while I have the concept clear in my mind, it is not clear for anyone else.

Group coaching is not an assembly line.

Group coaching is more than putting a group of people together in one space and letting them all hear about each others’ challenges. It’s more than devoting a few moments to each person in turn.

Coaching a group of people means forming one of those tiny communities of like-minded folks. Within group coaching, we build our own flock. But, no matter which type of bird we end up emulating, the same results show up.

The entire group bands together to work on each other’s challenges, to rejoice in each other’s wins, and to offer support for upcoming goals. We have a structure and rules so everyone is heard and everyone is safe. I make sure we respect everyone’s time by continuing to move forward while facilitating the discussion and coaching anyone who needs it.

And as we flock together, we begin to fly.