How to start working smarter, and make it a habit

Posted on Posted in Work, Working Out Loud

In his book ‘Working Out Loud’, John Stepper shares some practical ‘small first steps’ we can all take to develop the habit of Working Out Loud (WOL) and help us move towards our own goals.   

John defines Working Out Loud as “an approach to building relationships that can help you in some way. It’s a practice that combines conventional wisdom about relationships with modern ways to reach and engage people. When you work out loud, you feel good and empowered at the same time.”

It is made up of 5 elements, Relationships, Generosity, Visible Work, Purposeful Discovery and A Growth Mindset. You can read more about the approach here.

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The stories John shares in the book demonstrate the way WOL opens the door to new connections, new possibilities and change – at both an individual and organisational level.


Making Working Out Loud a habit

One way to develop your habit of Working Out Loud is to join a Working Out Loud Circle.

Working Out Loud Circles provide a space and framework in which to practice WOL.  They act like a time-limited peer support group John has created and freely shared WOL Circle Guides for the 12 week life cycle of a circle. The guides provide tips, tasks and coaching tools designed to help the circle support each other to move towards their own personal or professional goals whilst also developing the habit of Working Out Loud.  

This ‘peer support group’ works together to help its members answer three questions:

  • What am I trying to do?
  • Who is related to my goal?
  • How can I contribute to them to deepen our relationships?

Whereas a Circle isn’t absolutely necessary for someone to start Working Out Loud, it can be a huge support. The commitment to others means that people keep on doing what they’ve said they will, and over time, their new ways of working become a habit.



People are starting to see the benefits, and WOL circles are now growing around the world both in organisations and in communities.  They have spread to 17 countries so far.  John holds them lightly, giving others permission to adapt to best suit their needs and context.  I’m particularly keen to test them out and adapt to best suit needs of social entrepreneurs, activists and community organisers to help make social change in Greater Manchester and the UK.   I think they have the potential to further enhance and spread peer to peer learning and to be a great equaliser. They create new opportunities for people who don’t have ready access to large networks, shared learning and personal coaching.    

I’m keen to hear what others make of them.  And I’m open to challenges, suggestions for improvements and to being pointed to other similar examples/practices that already exist.


Still not so sure?

As with everything the best way to test is to experience for yourself.   I was skeptical at first – my first thought was ‘here’s another privileged, pale, male, American, from a large global bank, trying to tell the rest of the world how to be generous and to collaborate!’.   Sorry John! Whether your initial reaction is one of skepticism, curiosity or excitement,  I’d invite you to give it a go.  The framework, support, accountability and discipline that my circle has provided,  has helped me make tangible steps towards my goal.  Progress I could not have made on my own.  

If you’re up for it, here are some ways you could get started:

  • set up your own WOL circle at any point, anywhere, with whomever you choose;making use of the free circle guides.
  • If you are keen to start a circle but don’t know where to start please do get in contact and I’ll happily connect you with others and help get you started.  Some people use the Facebook group to advertise a new circle.   Fellow WOLers Michelle and Mara have initiated wide scale public circles in Australia and New Zealand.   And companies including Deutsche Bank,  Bosch and Cisco are spreading circles at a rapid rate across their organisations.   
  • If you want to know more about how to set up a circle and become a WOL coach you can join our first WOL circles course which is starting on 9 June.    This will give you the opportunity to test out a condensed circle for yourself over six weeks, with support from John and our team of wonderful WOL coaches.   


If you do try out WOL and WOL Circles for yourself,  please do let me know how you get on. All feedback is welcomed.

Here are links to more information about Working Out Loud (WOL) and the WOL circles course I’m developing with John Stepper and Helen Sanderson Associates.     

As a first step, why not leave a comment on this blog.  All comments welcomed, it doesn’t need to be anything deep or meaningful, just a ‘hi’ can be a good place to start!

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