At the end of every year I would look toward the next, examining what I did well and what I could do better. In 2015, I was told that I take up too much space by a colleague. As with everything I listened to this observation and asked myself: What about this statement is their perspective only and what rings true to me? Do I take up too much space? Is that what makes me unique? What does that mean about who I am? Is this something I wish to embrace or change?
This introspection is critical to self-growth with the key being to not take it personally. That is, do not let it into your being until you consider the source and content. My belief was that this gentleman was used to being the center of attention and the source of all truth and I threatened his identity. I also think he was expressing what others have discussed in private, behind my back, so for this I was grateful for his candor. My voice is loud and my presence is strong, this I know. I am passionate about what I believe in and this enthusiasm can put some people off, especially academics. So what did I learn that year?
Thoughtfulness.Be thoughtful (full in thought) of those around me. Consider if there are those who do not find their voice if mine is too strong. Try and enter a room slowly and release the light gradually. Be kind in my words and hear myself speak so that I can confirm that is what I truly meant to say with all of its ripples. Be thoughtful of myself and my needs. Do not sacrifice my own emotions to please others…I too am important.
Excellence. Excellence is not perfection! Perfection is a weight around your neck and a destination always out of reach fueled by ego and pride. Excellence is to strive to, to seek, to find, and never to yield to mediocracy. Be the best version of myself for myself. During my university days I was criticized as an ‘overachiever’. My response was “do not think I am an over achiever merely because I achieve over you” … not very thoughtful. My response should have been Thank You since I did not strive for high marks yet to truly understand what I am learning. Over achieving is achieving more than is expected of you by others excellence is expecting more from yourself and accepting where you land.
Authenticity.Be truly you – yet allow that identifier to be fluid with your changing self. For example, you are not your job yet an authentic you will find a way to recreate the job so it allows you to shine. Authenticity is tapping into your inner light that burns away the husk that contains it. Brene Brown speaks about belonging versus fitting in. Belonging is being accepted for who you truly are and fitting in is being who others expect you to be. An authentic person belongs.
TEA. This has been my mantra for the last 4 years since it is finding the balance where you can be authentic, excellent and thoughtful where the challenge is. Excellent yet not arrogant, authentic yet not elitist, thoughtful yet not invisible. The Tea ceremony, chadō (茶道), is counted as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement. So, if you chose to follow these tenants remember not to let them lord over you. It is the action of the ceremony that clears the mind not the tea itself