“Confronting Challenges” is a recurring blog segment by Victoria Fann, a Ben Franklin Circle host in North Carolina with several decades of facilitation experience. 


Burnout can happen to anyone, even when we are doing something that previously inspired and excited us. It can creep up unexpectedly. The first clue is a feeling of dread or an overall sense of resistance that triggers feelings of frustration, nervousness, overwhelm or even boredom. This is a clear sign that something isn’t working.


Burnout can happen for lots of different reasons. Sometimes the logistics of organizing a group can feel daunting. Things like scheduling, unexpected changes with a venue or meeting place, having to postpone meetings because of weather, illness or other issues. Other times burnout can occur when a specific meeting or interaction with a member can create doubt or disappointment. And sometimes, hosts discover challenges they didn’t expect.

Perhaps you are experiencing one of those lows. If so, take heart. You are not alone. This is perfectly normal.


A group is formed by the relationships between its members, and as with any relationship there will be highs and lows, and there will be plateaus. It’s part of the territory. The good news is that there are some wonderful ways that you can shift a feeling of burnout and in doing so, often infuse your group and yourself with renewed enthusiasm.


The following suggestions may help:


    • 1. Talk about it. Post a simple message to the host Facebook group. Share what’s on your mind or simply note that you are at a low point. Reaching out will allow other hosts to share similar experiences as well as what’s working for them and how they’ve overcome some of the challenges of being a host.


    • 2. Get in touch with the Ben Franklin Circle office. In addition to online resources, you can reach out to staff members at The 92nd Street Y for some support and guidance.


      • 3. Take a month to regroup. A little time off can give you the time and space to get some support and perhaps think of some creative ways to make improvements to your group experience.


    • 4. Recruit a co-host from among the members to share some responsibilities. There is no reason that you have to do everything yourself. You can ask for help from your group members. It might be that the thing you find most challenging is someone else’s natural strength.


    • 5. Change your usual meeting format to better suit your hosting style. Get creative and find ways that increase your own interest, which will then make it more fun for members (more on that in a future blog post).


    • 6. Take the pulse of the group to see how others are feeling. This may help you to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of your current format and allow you to make some tweaks and changes accordingly. We are often our own worst critics and you may find that others have a more positive perspective.


    • 7. Consider asking for more member participation for each virtue. Ask members to bring in related quotes, articles, or to share personal stories and so on. This removes the pressure from having to “do it all”.


    Finally, know that your willingness to host a Ben Franklin Circle is a wonderful service you are offering your community. Therefore, it is important that your well-being is factored into your experience as a host so that it is enjoyable for you and the members of your Circle. Perhaps you will feel inspired to do some “out of the box” thinking and innovate some ideas of your own.


Victoria Fann is a writer, transformational coach, group facilitator and workshop leader. Her Ben Franklin Circle meets in Weaverville, NC.




Join an information session for new and prospective hosts. Offered every 2nd Friday of the month.  REGISTER HERE