strange to see how many things we take for granted in our day-to-day
existence. Sometimes we fail to recognize even the most profound
aspects of our personality or personal situation. As we go around
in our little bubble, we often assume everyone else feels the same
way about certain things. This became very apparent to me through
an experience I had a few years ago as I attended a professional
-------I am usually very quiet in new
group situations until I become familiar with the people involved.
Even then my level of contribution to the group is relative to the
degree of interest and understanding I have concerning the topic
of conversation. The only exception to this condition is created
when something really strikes home and stirs deep emotions within
my personality. I first strain for understanding, hoping the speaker
will address the situation that eats away at my psyche. Sometimes
the discomfort becomes strong enough that I move to action, asking
the speaker to address the topic of my concern.
--------This particular workshop was
on the subject of teacher supervision. All the techniques and situations
we discussed regarding the matter of supervision were clouded in
my thinking by a very basic personality trait I possess. I find
it very difficult to tell a colleague and friend how he should conduct
his affairs, professional or otherwise. The way I've always seen
it, "who am I to tell a fellow human soul that my way is better."
Knowing I had a responsibility for supervision, I struggled for
answers. How could I, within my personality structure, effectively
------ -As the conversation continued,
more and more information was piling up, all of it very pertinent
and perhaps quite valuable. The problem for me was that this data
dump was formatted for an operating system other than my own. It
seemed as though the others were systematically processing megabytes
of information while I searched helplessly for the key to simply
boot the system. Finally my restlessness moved me to speak. I expressed
my inability to take the lead for the fear of damaging my relationship
with the peers I was assigned to supervise. My goal was always to
inspire and motivate by encouragement or example, not to dictate
or direct. Put simply, I desired the affection of my subordinates.
-------After I made my comment, the
strangest thing (at least in my limited sight at the time) happened.
A woman seated two rows in front of me let out a sigh of relief
and understanding and exclaimed, "that's my problem!"
She had quite obviously been sitting through the same struggle as
myself, yet the reasons never dawned on her. This characteristic
was so basic to my personality that I never imagined that anyone
could feel this way and not know it. The feelings I had were as
common and basic to daily living as the action of courtesy toward
someone who helps us, or the feelings of disappointment when we
let ourselves down.
-------At the break that followed this
segment of the workshop, the lady came to my table and placed her
hand on mine. With a lightness as though tons of weight had been
lifted from her she spoke. "Thank you so much, you just helped
--------Though I got no real hard-line
answers to my problem that day, I did realize I was not alone. Furthermore,
I realized that I was blessed with the ability to - at least marginally
- know myself. And finally, I learned that we could learn a great
deal about ourselves through our relationship with others. She had
given me credit for helping her when my motives had been entirely
-------But I accepted her thanks, feeling
elated at the knowledge that there are others in the world for which
personal growth is an important thing, and at the understanding
that together we can help to spur this growth.
© 2004 - The Trill House