The gift of being challenged

A week ago I was at a workshop to discuss the vision for an organisation with which I am involved. I only knew about a third of the people who attended. The work the organisation does is close to my heart and I have fairly strong opinions about one aspect of the work.

As the day progressed I found myself increasing being the voice of caution or dissent. It is not a role I usually play in such gatherings. Near the end of the day, as we were engaged in our final task, one of the people sitting at the table with me made a comment in passing about something I was doing. I can’t quite remember the phrasing, but he clearly viewed me as someone who is stubborn.

I’ve been ruminating on that for the week. I have never really thought of myself as being stubborn, and yet I can see how he might have got that impression that day. The remark was really not a personal attack, it was quite simply an observation. It has stopped in me in my tracks and forced me to examine the way in which I do hold opinions and offer them. I need to be careful because I think my voice carries authority, at least in some circles, and I am no longer the precocious youngster.

It made me realise how little real, honest feedback I get on a day to day basis. My initial presumption is that it a deficit associated with being single, but I am not sure that is necessarily true. Nonetheless, I realise that it is something that I crave. I’m not suggesting that I am now open for criticism on anything you fancy. But that I recognise that I am not always capable of seeing my own weaknesses; I am not always capable of appreciating the way in which I am coming across. Having someone else who cares sufficiently for me to point out my strengths and weaknesses in love would be a real bonus.

I do have people who are willing to point out my strengths, but I think I would be better off in the long run, if there were a few more people who were willing to point out my weaknesses.

In writing this I feel I am opening myself to all sorts of unwarranted criticism, so I would ask that anyone who wants to rise to this challenge to be attentive of their own motivations. And I would caution that I am not used to this, so you may have to be a bit patient with me. (There are a couple of people in my life who do do this for me – but the ones who immediately come to mind live a long way away)

2 thoughts on “The gift of being challenged

  1. Gosh, another great post, an important point on which to reflect. I am reminded of when I was a senior executive in a large organization. My best employee was also my right hand – she was forever frank with me, challenging ideas with critical thinking and wisdom. How few of us do this, how few of us can receive this with grace. She taught me a lot about doing so. I need reminding again these days.

  2. While in Manrese, another participant made a remark to me just before we embarked on an 8-day silent retreat. The remark pricked me to the core, and I felt my heart burning. But in fact the other participant was right. When a question was asked during a session, and no one answered, I usually said something as if to break the silence, to start the ball rolling. This other participant felt undoubtedly that I took away the chance of someone else to respond. My no longer feeling that I had to answer if no one else did became a sort of incredible freedom. I felt free to remain silent.
    But that original feedback definitely felt painful at first.
    As to feedback in daily life, I rarely take it well at first… My pride comes in the way. I overlook the love out of which it comes. But when I see the truth, all is well — or better, at least 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *