Your Experience of Groups, Awful and Great

Over the next seven posts, I will share a typical conversation I have these days, like the one I had last week in Boston, last month in North Carolina, two months ago in Mexico City, and three months ago in Germany.  At the end of each post, I will ask for your feedback.

I usually start the conversation with a simple question of whether they are experiencing the best they believe they can in their life.  So far, everyone has said that sometimes they experience the best they can, but not all the time.  When I ask why, they look at me funny, and say, “well, that’s just the way it is.  I don’t know.”  When I tell them that I think they do know, they give me the look of, “Oh yeah?  Show me.”

This is where it gets fun for me, because, like with the people I have engaged in the following conversation, I believe that I can show you, the reader, something you know to be true, but often do not realize.  To show you, now, what you know and a practical way of making sense of it, I will jump straight to the main point.


Experience of groups, awful and great

The conversation, which can be as short as five minutes or extend to hours, starts by asking people whether they have ever experienced a group or place where they feel awful?  This usually gets me a funny look, of “what do you mean?”  I suggest that they might feel bad while in the group or realize it afterward.  After being with these people or in this place, they feel fatigued, tired, frustrated, and they want to change something.  They want to medicate themselves.  Whether it is going for a walk, watching television, drinking a coffee or a beer, they need to do something else, to get away from the feeling of fatigue from the group.  At this point in the conversation, everyone always nods, acknowledging that they have that experience.  Some even make comments about the meetings they were just in, earlier in the day.  “You should see our meetings: they would kill you.”

I then ask whether they have had the opposite experience of a group or place that makes them feel great.  Where they are stronger and more energized because they are with the group.  After being with these people, they want to spend even more time with them.  They shake theirs heads excitedly, remembering such an experience in the recent past.

In a few groups, usually people working in large organizations, I have asked what percentage of the day they spend in the fatiguing experience.  For many the answers are up in the 70-80% of the time.  Ouch.  I then point out that I have established, from their own experience, that they know when they feel awful in a group and when they feel great.  They confirm this.  I have also shown that they have both experiences on a rather frequent basis.  So, then I ask the seemingly obvious, “Do you have a preference for one over the other?”  Most people chuckle at this, nodding their head and saying, “Of course.”  To be a little naughty, provocative, as well as to make sure, I suggest that the obvious preference is for the fatiguing experience.  “Right?”  This elicits another funny look with an immediate smile and response of, “No.  I prefer the energizing experience.  It has a better vibe.”  While this seems obvious, afterwards, I have made some clear distinctions in their preference for energizing groups.

Now I want to delve into the differences between the fatiguing and energizing groups by describing the experience more specifically.  In these conversations, people describe the fatiguing experience as exhausting, draining of energy, painful, and it requires people to work really hard to get anything done.  Participation in this group feels frustrating, with people just doing what they are told to do, without little creativity, even though they are trying.  They even share that they are often not sure what they contribute to the group.  Even more, they are not sure what anybody contributes to the group.  When I ask about the energizing group, people describe it as enlivening.  They have more energy afterwards than when they started.  Anything seems possible in the group.  They have lots of creative ideas.  Everyone in the group does, building off of each other, usually ending up in places they would never have seen before.  It is really cool.  Many people say that in this group they experience abundance all over the place.  This leads me to ask, “If this is an experience of abundance, what is the other experience?”  Most people respond, “Scarcity.  Nothing.  It is very hard.  There is a much lower vibrancy to the group.”

This is fascinating.  The awful place is an experience of scarcity and the great place is an experience of abundance.  And, now, we are getting to a critical insight.  I ask, “If you could live more in the abundant world, would you?,” to which the response has always been, “Yes.”  I counter with, “Then why don’t you?”  This starts us on a new path.  When people then respond that it is hard to live in greater abundance in most groups, I suggest that maybe it is and maybe it is not.  To tease out whether or not it is, we need to understand a little more about the differences in the two experiences.

My request to you

Please reply in these pages to share your own experiences, thoughts on what I share, or questions that arise.  I invite you as a citizen scientist to participate in the naming of the emerging field, which I refer to as ecosynomics, and in realizing the higher harmonic vibrancy available to all of us.

23 thoughts on “Your Experience of Groups, Awful and Great

  1. Pingback: Distinguishing Experiences of Scarcity and Abundance | Institute for Strategic Clarity

  2. I often work with people who I do not know very well, and have little history of experience together. Moreover, this work is often virtual. It seems to me that these are factors that can really contribute to confusion, and make evoking of energizing experiences particularly challenging. But I had a great one today with colleagues on two different continents — one who I’ve never met and had few interactions with, and the other a little more. I found important to validate and bring out each of our perspectives and cultural approaches to our work, and focus on “transcending” those — finding a path to integrate them in new ways that people found exciting and created new possibilities for them to live their aspirations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steve,

      To me you provide a wonderful example of agreements that support greater harmonic vibrancy in our relationships. Whether the group explicitly decides how it will work together or the organizer simply follows a specific structure-process, both examples show the agreements for a process that embraces all five primary relationships. You said it so clearly, “finding a path (agreements) to integrate them (other, group, harmonic) in new ways that people found exciting (vibrancy) and created new possibilities (spirit, abundance) for them to live (nature) their aspirations (self).” Thank you.



  3. Jim,

    I really liked the posting and how you illustrated the concepts by sharing “real stories” of your experience. I would like to know whether you are seeing the experiential pattern of abundance or scarcity showing up more within certain groups or is it driven more by certain topics, or both??


    • Richard,
      This is a great question: one that motivates my work. I find that the difference in groups relates to the agreements about how they are in five specific relationships, and the practices they have to support those agreements.

      In subsequent blogs, starting with Your Relationship to Self, I lay out the experience in five relationships (self, other, group, nature, spirit) that seem to distinguish the pattern of scarcity or abundance. Does this fit with your observations?

      All my best,


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