Fool’s Gold

Miguel Guhlin’s post “Broken Scales” raises some important questions about professional and personal learning. Miguel describes a team meeting where his team helps him “see the light”.

“At the team meeting, with vigorous discussion of my team, I realized that I had a choice–continue to be fearful and try to retain control while seeming to give it up, OR, trust the organization and surrender control. I do not think I would have reached this decision on my own. My team actually helped me “see the light” as we argued back and forth.”

Miguel is going through the “crucible” of change. He wants to stay in his “comfort zone” and maintain control of his service. During the discussion, he even thinks about giving everyone the impression that he is giving up control, while secretly intending on keeping hold of it. Wanting to be in control, wanting to keep things comfortable is very familiar to you and me; after all, we are human beings. Miguel is modeling for us what it means to be a real learner. He is uncomfortable to the point where he needs some help from his team.

There is a lot of “fools gold” out there that substitutes for real learning. Many of us think learning is about keeping up with all the latest twists and turns of technology. That’s the easiest thing to do…content knowledge. The deeper professional lessons, require much more of us. Miguel goes on:

“Engaging my own hypocrisy, my fear, meant setting aside what my department had done for the organization, asking anew what was best for the organization and including others in the conversation….Could I have reached this on my own? I’d like to think “Yes,” but a truer response would be that the conversation my team had with me was significant. This is a humbling experience, yet, frees me from my preconceptions, desires, fear to force a particular outcome.”

The foundation of personal change and transformation is self-reflection and self-honesty. Miguel demonstrates both as he leaves his old way of thinking behind and adopts a new way of looking at himself, his role, and his value to the organization.

“Is the service being provided aligned to what the organization needs and is that need understood by all stakeholders?”

What Miguel shows us is the courage of a leader. He is “walking the talk”; embodying what we would like all educators to embody…the courage to learn; the courage to change.

A simple way to measure how well we are learning and transforming, both personally and professionally, is how uncomfortable we feel. If we don’t feel out of our “comfort zone” from time to time, chances are we not really growing. Self-honesty, the courage to let go, and a little help from our friends, can go a long way.

Most of us work to avoid the uncomfortable feeling that personal and professional change requires; but to be a great teacher, to be a great leader, one has to be a great learner.




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