Name: Patty Morrissey
Hometown: Huntington, NY
Circle Start Date: Third Circle launched March 12, 2018
What do you do when you’re not running a Ben Franklin Circle?
I was a participant in the first Ben Franklin Circle hosted by the 92Y and then started my own group in Huntington. That group wrapped up in December 2017, and I’m about to kickoff a new Circle. Over the course of the last three years, my Circle friends supported me in making a career transition from corporate social responsibility and nonprofit management to self-employment. The Ben Franklin Circle experience helped me realize just how much time, freedom and flexibility mattered to my happiness and wellbeing. Now I have an organizing and lifestyle consulting business. I help people declutter their homes and live more intentionally. I also support outreach efforts for Ben Franklin Circles, which, like decluttering, help people focus on the values that matter most. My “Life KPIs” [Key Performance Indicators]—new experiences, walks in nature, fun days with my daughter, dates with my husband, and physical health—were inspired by Franklin. I recently started swimming lessons to help me achieve that last one.
What attracted you to the Circles?
I never shy away from a structured group experience, but it was the personal invitation that drew me in, that and the opportunity to build close relationships with some new people. I had recently moved from Chicago to New York and joining a Ben Franklin Circle was a shortcut to making new friends.
Tell us a little about the composition of your group. How did you find members (or how did they find you)?
The three groups that I’ve been a part of all had a different flavor. The first was more professional in nature; we all had a common thread in our careers, with most of us working in the social sector. My second group was much smaller and more informal. My next group, which kicked off on March 12th, is a larger group made up of women who either own their own businesses or are leaders or creatives in some other capacity. I think it’s important to invite people that you’re curious about and that you look up to in some way. Tapping into the selfish motives for creating the group will make you more dedicated to it, which makes it more rewarding and sustainable for all.
How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
In so many ways! I don’t think I could live my life without a Ben Franklin Circle. I like to go deep with people right away, to cut through the small talk. Ben Franklin Circles provides a regular and consistent outlet for deep conversation, personal reflection, shared learning, and support. If I get that need met, I can lighten up in other settings. My husband is grateful for that.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
There isn’t just one. It’s more the one I need to focus on at any given point in time. When I was starting my business, I decided to also dedicate a year to Frugality. I wanted to change my relationship with money on a fundamental level, to cozy up to it and see resource management as a virtue rather than a burden. I wanted to answer the question of “How much is enough?” before asking “How much more can I earn/grow?” This helps me feel fulfilled and balanced. I can turn down work (and save my sanity) because I’m confident in having enough.
What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?
My last group closed out with Humility, which Franklin defined as “Imitate Socrates and Jesus.” In my first Circle, we focused on unpacking Socrates and Jesus. In my second Circle, we were drawn to the word imitate. This led me to the idea that there is no “I” or “me,” no “authentic self” that I should strive to be because I am not a separate entity, but one with others, the world, and the universe. But, as humans we need a template, something to strive to be. So, instead of striving to be more authentically “me,” which doesn’t really exist, I could—might as well—strive to be more like Jesus or Socrates. The commitment was not so much to an action, but to meditating more on this and being aware of when I’m playing a part versus acting in flow, in unison with the universe.