I try to always find a line of pushing participants in my sessions in their learning, without pushing them off a ledge. I want them to feel challenged, not defeated. It is a tough line and sometimes I do well, and sometimes I struggle.
At a recent conference, I was challenging a participant and both of us were very passionate about our beliefs and thoughts on how we could help students. We had to end the session due to time, but I will tell you, it became heated, in what I believed was a good way.
Later at the conference, she was in another session of mine. This was a huge win for me as I knew she was very interested in what I was sharing. Again, we got into it. As she was speaking, I passionately jumped in and shared my thoughts, to where she said, “Can you actually let me share my thoughts without cutting me off?”
Immediately I said, “you are right…I totally cut you off and I apologize. My bad. Please continue to share.”
You see, I did not cut her off to be rude. I cut her off because I was passionate, but that passion led me to being rude to her. When she made me aware, I apologized and we moved on.
She and I later sat down together over lunch, and I again apologized. What I noticed is that her thoughts on my subject had changed. My belief was not because I changed her mind, but that she saw that I am in the same pursuit as her; to do what I can to help students. Yet, I am not infallible. I make mistakes in the pursuit of my growth, but I try my best to recognize, rectify, and then move forward. She saw that and our conversations were much different after.
When I am brought into a conference and referred to as an “expert” on anything, I feel uncomfortable. If you called me a passionate learner, I would be honoured. I feel the people that we see as “experts” on anything, know that in whatever area they are deemed with that distinction, they have so much to learn and “expert” is a fleeting title.
In leadership and learning, it is necessary to own our mistakes and show that learning is a messy process with ups and downs. As many people have shared, this image by Demetri Martin on what “success” looks like, but replace the word “success” with “learning”, and is it any different?Just pay attention to the final direction of both arrows; they both move upward and onward. When we realize that we are all just learning, acknowledging those “falls” quicker, can help us get back on the path we need to go.