I just got back from a conference for EO Injected Forums in Sonoma, CA where I had a great time with my Forum mates sharing and learning together. It struck me that I talk about Forum lot in my blog, but not everyone has had the opportunity to be in a forum or even understand what a Forum is, so let me tell you about the Forum experience.
|My EO Injected Forum biking through wineries in Sonoma, CA|
I am in two Forums. One is a local EO Forum that I have been in since 99, which meets monthly. The other is a regional Forum made up of EO members from the South East who have been in EO for more than 7 years, and meets quarterly.
A Forum consists of anywhere between 6 and 12 people, usually staying in the 8-10 range. The purpose of Forum is to create an environment that is trusting and confidential, allowing a high level of sharing to take place. Members usually discuss issues they’re experiencing, both personal and professional. The issues are presented and discussed in a very organized fashion. Time is allotted for an issue to be presented, followed by a period for questions, then ending with experience sharing by other members. The experience sharing is the most important part of Forum, as the key to helping someone comes from sharing what you have experienced, and letting them know what worked and what didn’t work.
|My East TN Forum Retreat in Atlanta, GA|
Experience sharing should not be confused with giving advice. There are 2 important reasons why this time is called experience sharing: (1) people don’t like to be told what to do, and by sharing your experience they are more likely to take that information and figure out how to apply it to their own situation, (2) if you take someone’s advice on something and it doesn’t work out, it’s too easy to blame that person who advised you, thereby breaking the trust and respect between the members. I have found that this practice is better for all relationships, and wish I could do it all the time.
Confidentiality and trust are key in Forum, because without them, the level of sharing is not at its highest. Having the right Forum can be life changing and can allow for growth beyond comprehension in all areas of your life. It has done that for me, and sharing with all my EO friends around the world has given me perspective that has helped, changed and allowed me to grow in both small and large ways.
If you have been in a Fraternity or Sorority, you probably have experienced the closeness of a group of people similar to Forum. We take a yearly retreat to bond, get to know each other and to build trust. It has been said that you will talk about 95% of your life to most people. Forum is where you talk about the other 5%.