Monday, May 18, 2009

Learning the Same Lessons

I served on the team that presented a More To Life Weekend in Houston over the last few days. My role was primarily responsible for compiling all of the documents and handouts participants received. When I accepted this role, it was presented as something that could be a bit of a challenge, so I began preparing several days in advance. By the time I arrived at the venue on Friday afternoon, I had several important pieces already in place.

What I learned early on was that other people were committed to my vision of this role. Not only was I able to rely on other people, it was vital for me to do so in order to have things done as impeccably as I wanted. I could have done everything myself, but I didn't have to. There were always enough people on hand to serve in whatever capacity was necessary in each moment, whether it was in my role or any of the many others that fit together to present a high-quality training. It was a real relief to me to recognize that I could trust other people, and that there was plenty of time. And, as I continue to realize, I can trust myself, too. My preparation contributed directly to how smoothly things went.

Then, I got a big surprise yesterday. One of the documents, a fairly important one that participants receive toward the end of the weekend, was not the version that the leadership had intended to distribute. The result may not have been apparent to the participants, but the leadership perceived it as making it easy for people to be less committed to making a powerful difference in the world. My initial reactions were to feel guilt, defensiveness, and shame, and to believe that I had failed and that others were going to hold this against me for a long time.

When I look at the truth of things, though, I see a different picture. I had prepared materials very conscientiously for this weekend. I was receiving a large number of documents from a variety of sources. I had asked for (and gotten) other knowledgeable people to look over what I had created for the participants ahead of time. I didn't know what this particular intended document looked like, or how it differed from what I had received. I could have followed up with the source for this particular document, but I didn't realize at the time how much of a difference it would make.

So, in the end, the guilt and defensiveness and shame are not a direct result of anything that happened. In fact, I am proud of the way I prepared for and carried out my role. I may have missed the mark on one document by not following up as thoroughly as I could have, but I that doesn't bring me anywhere close to failing. My experience over the weekend was that I didn't have to look very hard for people who are willing to contribute to my vision. Who are willing to embrace it as their vision... our vision together. Although a number of people (including myself) overlooked something, I can still trust people and rely on them. They are human beings just like me, and together we can recognize where we are and where we would like to be and chart a course in partnership. And I can still trust myself even when I recognize that I have room for improvement and growth.

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