As part of a New Year’s reading challenge I saw on Facebook, I had committed to giving books to some Facebook friends. One of the people on my list was a local woman business owner. I decided to gift her a business book written by a woman.
Sadly, there are way fewer of them than those written by men. But I finally found one that looked intriguing. I checked it out from the library, and soon ordered a copy for my friend, and then myself (my standard M.O. is to read a book from the library or online, and if I really like it, especially non-fiction, business, and self-help books, I buy it.)
Well … I raved about the book so much that my husband even asked me to order him a copy!
The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker, is a guide to help us elevate the way we gather with others. Early in my reading, I experienced a major shift in understanding how to improve meeting with others, and the book continues to make a strong impact on me.
The author provides great stories and real-life examples to illustrate her points. I highly recommend getting it, to fully grasp these important lessons. In the meantime, I am excited to share one of my favorite concepts from the book:
Determine a bold, sharp purpose for every gathering.
This means that we need to look beyond what we are “supposed” to do at each gathering.
Parker cites these examples of what we might say if asked the purpose of these group activities:
- Book Club – Get us to read books together
- Volunteer Training – Train volunteers
- Networking Night – Help business people meet each other
These assumed purposes make for same old, same old gatherings.
The author then provides a different view:
“In planning that network night, what if the organizers (asked): Is our purpose for this gathering to help people find business partners or clients? Is the purpose to help guests sell their wares or to get advice on the weaker parts of their product? Is the purpose of the night to help as many people from different fields make as many new connections as possible, or to build a tribe that will want to meet again?”
The answers to those questions would obviously lead to dramatically different types of event setups.
Parker also shared a personal example of how she could have handled her baby shower differently to make it better for her husband and herself. She also discussed other types of gatherings, including potlucks, birthday parties, business meetings, and more, while explaining how bold, sharp purposes could be created for each.
How I Put This Concept Into Practice
My birthday was coming up, and I usually go with a group of friends for Happy Hour to celebrate our birthdays. We would drink, eat, and talk about whatever. Some conversations we had at these gatherings were better than others, depending on what we talked about.
With my newfound knowledge of creating a bold, sharp purpose, I put some time into thinking about this event. I decided that the purpose for my birthday gathering would be to let each of these important women in my life know how much their friendship meant to me. I had known them for over 20 years, but I had never expressed these thoughts to them. So I wrote individual letters telling how each friendship was important to me. My husband gave me plastic sheet protectors for each, and I brought them to the Happy Hour.
After we had ordered drinks and food, I told the group that I had something to share with them. I reached into my bag for those five sheet protectors, read each friendship letter out loud, and gave them their copies. We shared some tears and smiles and memories, and I had the best time I’ve ever had at one of these Birthday Happy Hours (and I’m pretty sure the other girls felt the same way).
More About Gatherings
Down the road, I may write about other inspiring ideas I learned from this book. In the meantime, I hope this post has provided some useful information that will help your future gatherings and get-togethers be happier, more inspiring, and more memorable.
For more ideas, and detailed examples and stories, grab this book. You’ll be glad you did.