The Story of Anne and Diane (about what a superprogram would feel like)

Anne and Diane were two sisters in their twenties. For a year they had volunteered at a literacy program to help adults. They both volunteered five hours a week. Both found their efforts fulfilling. Anne, however, thought about the shape the world was in and wished she could do more. When a friend told her about CLEAR, she knew she needed to check it out.

What she read excited her. Here was a program that would enable her to do more good! She read through the program steps and understood that one of the most important things was to get a “Buddy” who would give her ongoing support and encouragement. She asked her friend Tasha to be her Buddy since Tasha seemed goal-oriented. They arranged to make a 10-15 minute check-in call twice a week.

CLEAR is based on something called the CLEAR Method. A person sets goals in five areas, and each area is represented by a letter in the world CLEAR:

C = Clear, as in remove obstacles and build capacity.

L = Live!, as in live your mission and happiness fully.

E = Empower others, as in helping them to help themselves.

A = Add to your life-support systems at least as much as you take.

R = ‘Ripple Effect,’ as in pass on this method to others personally. (This happens later, once a person is comfortable with the program.)

Anne appreciated that using CLEAR would increase the balance in her life and also her ability to get things done.

Very soon, Anne cut her volunteering at the literacy center in half. She still enjoyed it, but she was fairly busy and needed time for CLEAR. Since she didn’t have a lot of time and money to spare, she began by setting two goals: one was to save more money, and the other was to increase her available time. She thought about her monthly fixed costs and found ways to save on her utilities and phone bill. Tasha supported her to follow-through on changing utilities. Then Anne did the Well Analogy Assessment and realized that one big reason she didn’t have time was that she was too unassertive. She did too much for her boyfriend and other friends that she didn’t want to do—things they should be doing. She was letting other people control her life. With Tasha’s support, she began working through the Increasing Assertiveness tool. She even role-played the exercises with Tasha, who was also interested in becoming assertive. As a result, Anne learned to say no to people’s unreasonable demands of her time and energy without feeling guilty or coming off as being mean. It took six weeks, but the results were worth it.

Meanwhile, Diane still volunteered five hours a week and said she couldn’t be happier.

Eventually the money Anne saved on bills showed up in her bank account. She wanted to make a new, more powerful donation with some of this money. She had always felt like she should be more environmental, so she took the Ecological Lifestyle Assessment and decided to offset some of the damage her lifestyle caused. She also read the Wise Giving of Time and Money resource and spent some of the time she would have volunteered to research high-leverage environmental organizations. She donated money to a tree-planting program that taught children to tend the trees. The trees would first clean the air, then provide fruit, then later yield firewood or lumber. So the program helped the children become responsible, it helped poor families economically, and it was environmental. After three months, Anne had saved $100. This produced 25 mango or banana trees which would help feed five families, probably for at least fifteen years. Not only that, but the trees offset some of the carbon dioxide that her car produced when she drove. Anne liked the Wise Giving resource so much that she told some members of her church about it.

Anne next began to focus on her personal mission and fulfillment. She drew from Part C of the Lifestyle Review to think about her personal mission, but she also wanted to use the Life Mission and Process Statements resource. After a few months Tasha became busy with other things, so Anne thanked her for all her support. Anne immediately got another Buddy, Maria, for the twice-weekly phone calls. One of the questions in the material asked Anne what kind of playing had made her happiest as a child, and she recalled that it was drawing and art. She decided to take a course to explore whether or not she should go back to school and become a graphic artist.

Meanwhile, the assertiveness skills she learned gave her more confidence. She realized that the skills could also help her at her current job. She asserted herself to make suggestions that her boss found valuable. Eventually it led to a more challenging and interesting job assignment with more pay. Some of this new-found money would go to the child & tree charity and some would be put away for art school.

Anne did one more thing before the end of the year. She had realized that CLEAR had helped her get more skill, time and money, and had changed her life course through the support to explore for her life mission. She wanted to give back to Group Genie. She decided to become a support Buddy for new people entering the program. She had to do a few things first: practice being a good listener, and learn to be less critical and more encouraging. The Sounding Board tool allowed other people to give her feedback on how they perceived her. Before the end of the first year in the program, Anne had supported two people until they found other Buddies. One of them had a contact in the art world that she would later use to advance her career.

When Anne looked back, so much had changed in just one year: a new career path, a better job assignment, more confidence and skill with others, and the feeling that she had more than tripled the good she was doing with literacy, the new child & tree charity, the good she was doing for herself, and her support of other Group Genie members. Later, she found out that, because of her, a group at her church used the Wise Giving of Time and Money resource. They wrote her a thank-you note, saying that after studying and discussing the resource and supporting each other for six weeks, they felt like the six people in the group had easily doubled the good they did!

Anne became even more excited when she explored the website further and realized she hadn’t even tapped one-tenth of Group Genie’s resources for personal growth and improving the world. At the beginning of the year she had liked the Ai Sakai concept, but she had thought that the vision of decreasing suffering a hundredfold was too optimistic. But after a year of seeing her own life change and of dramatically increasing her impact on the world, she got goose bumps because in her heart she realized that Group Genie had the strategies and methods to do phenomenal good by changing the world, one person at a time.

Meanwhile, her sister Diane had doggedly continued to volunteer five hours a week, teaching literacy all year. Finally, Diane started to have mixed feelings about her work. She knew that teaching literacy was very important, but she was a little envious of all her sister had accomplished. So a year after her sister, she joined. But instead of getting a Buddy, she decided to join a Goal and Growth Group. This was a small group of 4-6 people that met once a week for an hour and a half. Diane began to use the support and momentum of the group to build up her skills.

The Goal and Growth Group’s purpose was to support people in their goal attainment and growth. Three to six people meet, usually weekly, for about 60-90 minutes. There are three rounds. Each person takes two minutes or less per round. In the first round people share on learning: They share on something they are studying; or they share an insight related to their efforts; or they ask if any in the group know of information that they need.

In the second round they share on their progress since the last meeting and their plans until the next meeting. In the third round they share on something that they appreciated. After the three rounds, there is an “Interchange” period in which the group can go into more depth. The Interchange is more open-ended. During this time, the group can discuss an issue that most of the members are dealing with. Diane’s group discussed the problems of staying motivated, and later of saving time. Sometimes the group members can work on a skill together. Diane’s group studied active listening. Periodically the group members evaluate the group, and adjust the ground rules for that particular group.

Diane also used the Dream and Goal Sheet to start her on the path of someday owning a hair salon. She dreamed of having her own hairstyling business and of doing some hair styling free in senior citizens’ homes to make the ladies there feel good. Like Anne, she summarized all her goals and plans on her Life Pact. She made a new Life Pact every four months. When she periodically reviewed it, it gave her a deep sense of accomplishment to know that she could change her life and her world.
Diane also had a friend, Tom, who was always complaining about the country’s politic problems. When she saw the Proof Through the Night  (PTTN.ORG) materials about learning how to make a political difference, she thought of him. Since participants can always have more than one Buddy, she challenged Tom to be her Buddy, and to start doing something about politics instead of just complaining. (Incidentally, she had other plans for Tom!)

* * *

If you doubt that someone could really do the things that Anne did in a year, and still have a job and other interests, visit the imaginary weekly log that we created for her. It even allows time for illness and vacation. This log can be found at Anne’s Journal.The imaginary Anne spent about five hours a week working on her goals. If you read the log, you’ll probably agree that it’s fairly realistic. Don’t forget that she had ongoing personal support.