… And the importance of learning that who I am around will either destroy or help me. Realizing how to find a way to create an equilibrium. This was a reflection exercise I did for one of my MBA Leadership Classes.
This class was so profound for me in my MBA. It helped me to learn sooo much about myself and how my life experiences have affected me and thus in-turn as a leader.
My first-grade teacher noticed that I was different from the rest in the class. I either wanted to be extremely close with everyone or extremely distant, self-absorbed in my own thoughts sitting alone.
My teacher had hair that extended to the bottom of her behind. When she would circle us all up for storytime, she took her hair down from a bun and allowed it to be extended in its full capacity. Most of the classmates would play with her hair while she read. They would awe over her long, beautiful hair.
I sat alone away from everyone and watched them. I didn’t say a word. I did touch her hair, but I didn’t want to play with it nor sit with the kids that did. She pointed out that I wasn’t sitting with the rest of the kids and told me I needed to come close with the rest of the kids and partake in story-time. I listened, but I hated every minute of it to the point that I couldn’t focus on the story being told but rather just the situation at hand. I thought the rest of the kids were weird! Ha!
I grew distant from my teacher and the kids in my class so much that I stopped caring about the lessons being taught by my teacher in class. My teacher, of course, told my mom about my behavior and my teacher suggested I see a physiologist and be enrolled in the special education for my school because maybe my behaviors had something to do with my parent's recent divorce or maybe I had a learning disorder.
My behavior just wasn’t appropriate for a 1st grader and I wasn’t doing well in class. My teacher wanted to hold me back a grade because she said I didn’t belong in 2nd grade yet. My mom took my teacher’s advice about having me see a psychologist and I was enrolled in special education.
It was found that I did have a harder time than others with learning, but that with hard work and motivation I learned well with time and actually I picked up on things that other kids didn’t. I wanted to understand, and I was curious about everything. I often asked my special education teacher about how everything worked and I talked about how I felt the rest of the kids were acting weird.
My teacher still wanted to hold me back to repeat 1st grade though. My mom told her and also fought the school principal to negotiate that I be put into 2nd grade still with the stipulation that I show a good performance within so much time and if I didn’t show good performance in 2nd grade then the school could move me back into 1st grade.
Surprisingly, I did outstanding in 2nd grade and continued to be a straight-A student from thereon. I did so well that they took me out of special education after a while in 2nd grade.
However, there was one difference and my mom noticed it too….. my 2nd-grade teacher was a lovely woman that encouraged me to do well and was very nice to me. I still think extremely highly of my 2nd-grade teacher.
The impact of this event on my values and direction in life…
I learned that I had large control over my success or failure. I can either fail or succeed depending on the environment and my awareness and control of the situations at hand. I can also let things bother me to a point that I become extremely distant and essentially fail if I allow myself. I learned to point out my frustrations with people and situations and distance myself from them or take care of them in a way that can be useful and to my advantage.
Inner Harmony — I learned that I must value inner harmony.
I must have time to reflect and a place to voice or get rid of my frustrations. Otherwise, I may not succeed and I may start to think about things other than what I need to be at that moment to achieve success.
I have to be able to have my own thoughts under control about “things going on that I cannot control”, otherwise I cannot do well.
Affiliation — I learned that I need to feel somewhat a part of the group. Respected at the very least.
My 1st-grade teacher focused on my weird behavior and always pointed out my weaknesses. Whereas my 2nd-grade teacher showed a sincere appreciation for me as an individual absent of my flaws and when she did talk about my flaws she always talked about what I did that was also good and made me feel very special.
I’ve noticed this even as an adult, and it has been somewhat of an inner battle with my value for independence because I sometimes view the need to be affiliated as a weakness instead of something that helps me find inner peace.
I need to feel a sense of belonging.
I secretly hated that special education took me away from the rest of the class. I wanted to be in the class with everyone else enjoying the Spanish lessons! I always had my special education time when everyone else studied fun Spanish in 2nd grade. I felt awful about it that I never got to learn Spanish like the rest of the kids. Haha.
Instead, I felt like an outsider and a freak.
However, I enjoyed my 2nd-grade teacher pointing out what made me an asset making me feel like I belonged in my class and I made a contribution.
I still struggle with this one, I feel as though that I shouldn’t require to feel belonging. That independence and self-control should take more precedent. So, this is something I’ll need to continue to work on to be an effective leader.