The best learning experience I ever had – Meg Peppin

Another fine example of ‘I couldn’t choose just one’ today from Meg Peppin. Strictly speaking this is cheating but since it’s such a great post it will be allowed!!

Meg has recently started blogging and you can find her posts here and follow her on Twitter @od_optimist.

So it goes

Pinpointing one experience is hard, if not impossible, so I thought I’d share those that I’m still connected to as I reflect back.

A memorable and really useful workshop I attended right at the beginning of it all is still clear in my memory; it offered me resources I still draw on and when I reflect, it was the person facilitating who so inspired me.  In the face of very challenging behaviour (not mine of course, still the innocent ingénue at that point)  she appeared unfazed; open, curious, calm and offered it right back to the players helping them to see and own their behaviour.     She lit the spark for me showing that there is a way of drawing something from people and situations that can seem impossible, too challenging.  She brought grace into that situation and grew something good from something that had seemed mean and angry in spirit. 

Later, when studying, the leader of the faculty who supervised my research offered a unique combination of acceptance coupled with challenge, curiosity and deep enquiry.    I learned from him to stay with the difficult stuff, to name it, to explore it and to use it – to face it.  I learned too that even when studying with the “grown ups” the playground is never far away!

One time, somewhere between the two above, a difficult working relationship, someone I liked but found frustrating – it was reciprocated.   We had a hefty redesign project to deliver.    Our manager refused to intervene – “you’re adults, talk to each other”.  One day, we did have the conversation; it lasted many hours.  I saw more clearly then than ever before, how difference is strength, but how often it can become a barrier.     As we increased our mutual understanding of our perspective on the world, what is important to us, and what we wanted to achieve, I saw me and us from her perspective, and this offered me insight not only into her but into myself.   Ooo the wriggle of the discomfort when your certainty dissipates and you see another truth.

One more – possibly less a learning experience and more a game changer –  at a time that was unutterably difficult, someone – a colleague at work –  who I didn’t know very well physically put out her hand to me and offered help.  Neither of us knew what that help would look like, she didn’t know she was going to offer.  .  However, the act of her saying “I will help, you are not alone” without her knowing how,  taught me that the vulnerable may not need much from me/you to stop them from fracturing into a thousand pieces – we don’t know.  I too could and would be that hand, that strength, and who knows I may need it again.

So as I reflect, my work and life and relationships are my best learning experience, I have drawn on these learning experiences and many others for myself and for those with whom I work. And so it goes.


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