The Problem with Circles
When The Every Heart Project was created several years ago, many of our members began to describe our group as a 'Sister Circle.' In fact, we ended up using the name 'Every Heart Sister Circle' for quite some time, as the designated name of our private Facebook group.
Within the membership, we also created something called The Inner Circle, which was a group of ladies who represented our leadership team or ambassadors. They provided insights on how to grow the membership, feedback on events, and attended a few leadership events to grow in their businesses or as women in general. I remember meeting with a new member in 2018, and she said she was initially turned off by the idea of us having this 'inner circle.' She said it immediately reminded her of high school, when there was a clique of girls who were the popular ones or the mean ones. They were the 'in crowd' and this Sister confessed she always felt like she was left out.
I immediately took this feedback to heart, because the very mission of The Every Heart Project is to be a place where women of all backgrounds, religions and races can feel welcome and embraced, without judgment. Creating a clique of any kind was never the intent. So as 2018 came to a close, I announced we were dissolving the Inner Circle. I met with this awesome group of ladies to explain the reasoning, and encouraged them all to continue to be leaders within the group. I made the decision to implement a leadership board instead for 2019.
But I keep coming back to this problem with the word 'circle.'
A circle represents a lot of things, such a perfect shape. Well, in the world of women and real life, nothing is perfect. Ha! People are messy, relationships are hard work, and life can be downright chaotic. The circle is often tied to the message at weddings, about an infinity-type symbol that ties two people together for life. Once again, when I think about our women's organization, it's far greater than two people. In fact, if two people are too close, it prevents others from forming relationships with them. Imagine going to an event and all over the room were simply pairs of women engaged in meaningful conversation. Would anyone feel comfortable walking up and joining the conversation? Probably not.
I recently saw an amazing quote by author, Glennon Doyle. She says:
"If you are standing with other women in a circle
and there is a woman standing alone in your circle's vicinity -
the thing to do is notice her, smile at her,
move over a bit and say, "Hi, come join us!"
Even if she decides not to join your circle -
even if she looks at you like you're crazy -
inviting her is still the thing to do.
Widen your circles. All the time.
Also: horseshoes are better than circles.
Leave space. Always leave space.
Life can be lonely. Stand in horseshoes."
So, from this point on, The Every Heart Project is no longer a Sister Circle. We are a horseshoe. We leave space. We welcome all. We can always make a bigger horseshoe.
With Heart, Janet