The Student Mind…

ListeningI’m coming up on two years with Expedition Self and wanted to share some things that are important to me.

I am incredibly grateful and honored that Sam Parrotto saw so much potential in me. Not necessarily professionally, but growth-wise. She saw so much more in me than I ever could – still does. There are no words to express how I feel about her… she’s an incredibly generous, loving, and kind woman, and she plays an important role in my life — mentor, coach, boss, and just as important, friend.

There have been many wonderful things that have happened to me since I started with Expedition Self. Some have profoundly affected me and have gone a long way in helping to  heal the little girl inside of me. If I’m really honest, there have been many not so wonderful things that have happened as well — of my making.

It has taken almost 1-1/2 years for me to finally get into a “student mind” with regards to my growth work. I’m as stubborn as one of the donkeys in my pasture. I am hard-headed and resistant to so many things and almost made it impossible to get anything done. It affected my growth work and my professional work with Expedition Self. I acted like the “know-it-all,” when I really wasn’t. What I was doing was protecting myself – a long ago reaction to anything that I felt threatened me. By acting the way I did, I could be the “perfect child” (long story associated with that one), and please everyone. The problem with that, though, I wasn’t perfect (and I’m not), and I wasn’t pleasing anyone. I was making it difficult because I just wouldn’t listen.

I am a product of my upbringing. I learned to be the way I am (although it’s changing) as a defense mechanism. It has not served me well — in relationships or professionally. I know that now, but didn’t then.

Shortly after the first of the year, Sam & I had what I call my “come to Sam” chat. It was brutal (it really wasn’t what you think), but boy…did I get the message. I needed to “become a student,” and let my defenses down so I could learn and finally work on real growth. Only by doing that would the rest fall into place. My attitude, such as it was, was seriously holding me back.

What exactly is the student mind?  It’s about sitting back and listening. It’s about being conscious of what you say and how you respond to others. It’s letting others’ talk without interrupting. It’s acknowledging that you don’t know-it-all and being open to new thoughts and experiences. It’s being collaborative, not single-minded. It’s about putting the harshness that you use as a defense aside, and softening your mind, body, and your heart, so you are receptive to what is being presented. It’s about not being a victim or finding excuses. It’s about being responsible for what we say or do and how we say or do it. It’s about how we are with others and with ourselves. It’s all about being present. This has a profound effect on our growth work. It flows into our professional life and our relationships with co-workers and family.

It’s been an incredible two years -more so in the past six months or so. I can finally acknowledge that I’m changing — just a bit, mind you. Because of the student mind, I am different now — in how I speak with and to people, and in how I listen and react to what is said. I’m much less defensive, resistant, and hard-headed, but I still have so much (LOTS) more work to do. I’ve just scratched the surface of who I am and who I am becoming. I like this me so much better than the other me. And that is saying a lot. You see, I never really liked me, nor did I really love me. I never thought I was good enough or that I was worth it, or lovable. But I’m learning that I am all those things and more. Sam saw all of this and more, and I will always be grateful that she did.


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