How to Start a 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership Book Group

Using the power of human connection to do deeper work

I was first introduced to the book 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership (by the way, I’m not an affiliate, so all proceeds go to them if you buy their book!) at 2018 after seeing Diana Chapman speak. A copy of this book was a conference gift. After hearing about a book group like this from my friend Devika who was a part of one, I created a book group with 2–3 friends to keep myself accountable to my journey. Being a part of one of these books groups transformed the way I show up, think, and feel.

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“15CCL” was published in 2015 with 15 potent commitments for leaders to become more conscious/aware of their emotional states, approach with curiosity, take radical responsibility, and, well, about 12 more gut-punching lessons. As someone who, like many others, can intellectually appreciate topics but not apply them immediately in my life, I needed a book group to stay accountable, and work through each commitment DEEPLY, through peer coaching, thinking about the commitment myself, practicing the commitment daily, and supporting others through the commitment.

Getting Started:

  1. Frequency/time: Choose the timing and frequency that works best for you and your group. 90 minutes every week works really well for our group. 90min every 2 weeks has worked well for others.

Choosing the group:

I began to think of people I knew who would be good fits for the group. Although you may want to have completely different criteria, I selected for the following:

  • People who were in a similar learning trajectory, emotional awareness, and a strong level of commitment to do deep work consistently over several months.

I approached each person individually (in person or over the phone), stating my desire to start this group, and let them know where I was in the process (how many other people have said yes, when we might start, how many hours the commitments would look like.) Several of the first people I asked said no; it was, after all it WAS a huge commitment (many have since asked if they could join months later, after seeing our transformations — more on this below).

The First Meeting:

Kicking Off:

  1. You (as the first facilitator) will set the container by welcoming/thanking the group, and share why you started it.

First meeting email example:

“Our next meeting is Tuesday 7pm PST via google hangouts you can reach via the google calendar invite, which I’ve sent out. I will be leading the next meeting.

Please come with the first 60 pages completed, with questions and ideas that really resonated with you written down so we can share with the group.

We’re starting with a 4-week commitment, and then will discuss how we’d like to adjust commitments.”

Communication:

  • We are switching from messenger to text! (Nick doesn’t check facebook)

See you all on Tuesday! Text ahead of time if you might be a few min late so we know where you are.

Kim”

Structure/Guidelines:

As the initiator of this book group, you want to have some guidelines written out, then get together for everyone to discuss and agree on a final set of guidelines. Guidelines will help keep the culture of the group.

On day 1 of our book group, 4 of us gathered into a small office conference room (we happened to be in the same city that week; we could have easily done this online) and set expectations/guidelines for our group:

  1. Be fully present

Here are some things we’ve learned that have kept our group continually transformative and connected:

  1. Reps over content: We experimented with having each facilitator summarize the chapter in a lecture format and quickly realized this wasn’t productive; the precious time we had together was best spent digging into one person at a time. We called this “doing reps” like we do at the gym lifting weights.
  • The worksheets at https://conscious.is/resources/handouts are what we spend most of our time on. We pick 1 relevant handout, then practice it 1 person at a time, facilitated/coached/supported by 1–2 group members.
  1. Notice if above/below the line: (in this case, below).
  • “Is that really true?”
  1. Go back into older material when relevant: Even if we’re on the commitment “opposite of my story” if I’m showing up as below the line, my group would call me in and we’d pull out the victim/hero/villain worksheets again to review. In fact, doing the 100% Responsibility Sheet (Commitment 1) on a day slotted for Commitment 8 was one of our most powerful sessions to date!

Here are some interesting takeaways I did not expect before the group started:

  • Some of the first people I’d approached to join this book group said no. It’s a huge commitment! Since then, 2 of the people I originally asked told me they were ready to commit, and asked if they could join it. Because of the integrity of the container already created, I had to decline someone joining in the middle, but offered to help set up more book groups for them (part of the reason why I’m writing this article)!

Other snippets into how our group is run differently now vs. a few months ago:

  • We used to take meticulous meeting notes (1 scribe per meeting) and we have since stopped. Turns out, the best use of our time came from working in the present and we never read our meeting notes. We DID, however, begin to record our sessions on Zoom (this only works if you pay for zoom), or sometimes audio recorded when we were diving into a process.

Tips:

  • If you use Google Calendar to schedule virtual video meetings, put the Zoom video link in the “location” of Google Calendar, or you can simply click “add conferencing” when editing an event on Google Calendar and it will create a video conferencing “Hangouts” room to join. I can’t tell you how many times I had to scramble through old messages and emails to try to find the link at the last minute.

In the future…

  • I’d like to organize a retreat for others who have gone through this book format so we could spend a weekend/week together with those who’ve been working toward a common goal. Perhaps I’d even want to bring a few groups together so we can meet others who’ve gone through multi-month commitments.

I need your help!

“15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership Book Group” or even “15CCLBG” is a LOT! For the first 3 months we called our group CoCoLe. Then we did a full on brainstorming whiteboarding session and thought about Co-Lead. Do you have better names for these book groups? Something short, snappy, and easy to say would be amazing!