Have you been afraid to make a change? How self aware are you? What are your full capabilities?
This past year I left my job of seven years. It was a position I had loved for the first 5 years. However the past two years I struggled to keep the same passion for the work. I wasn’t sure if it would be a huge mistake leaving or if I could indeed excel in the new role I was offered. Going from a position where I had many close work friends and knew what I was doing, I had been torn on leaving. Yet, I fought my fear and took a position that I knew would require me to grow in a large way. I just didn’t realize how much.
After taking the leap and going into my first initiative I found myself falling in love with getting to know all the people I was able to meet and hearing their stories. Getting to connect with complete strangers all over the country who were open to being vulnerable has brought me the most joy this year. Also, the more I was able to connect, the more I wanted to do for them.
Alternatively, there have been other people I have met who were very guarded. At times, I would even get stuck in my own head and worried about not being good enough. I then became afraid of sharing too much of the real me in fear of revealing the imposter feeling I had.
As a result, someone told me what I needed to hear, “Melanie you need to be more of who you really are. We loved you when you shared things such as your daughter joined the fishing club. It helped us get to know you. But then at times in front of certain people, you became inflexible and rigid.”
Those rigid times were when my insecurities and need for control would get the best of me in my mind. When I didn’t get what I wanted from the questions I asked to get them to open up, my desire to control a better outcome led me to withdraw to the inner negative voice saying “I am not good enough.” Inside I became frustrated. I then stopped listening for the feelings in the other people which is what I really needed to hear.
On a recent trip, I was greeted with smiles and hugs from everyone but one person. That one person made me think, “why does she not like me?”
As time went on. I witnessed other’s reactions around her as well. I realized others also didn’t know how to take her strong personality. To work with her better, I began to personality profile her to the numbers in the enneagram. I had decided she was an eight, a Challenger, based on her intense desire to work and get things accomplished and was not afraid to tell people exactly what she thought. As she grew tired she moved into the unhealthy 8 being more unfriendly with her comments. Knowing that 8’s respect those who are strong enough to stand their ground, I became stronger and louder. Yet, inside I was becoming more insecure.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten to actively listen to the valid opinion she had and show I could be open to the advice. The next day I saw how I could have approached the situation entirely different. My meeting with her would have been better had I said, “I hear the points you are making and they are very good. Let me think about how I can approach this by utilizing your feedback.”
The next day I confessed to her how I had given all of the feedback more thought and how incorporating the ideas made it better. I admitted that I was growing in better handling criticism.
She had replied with wisdom saying, “I wasn’t being critical. You also made some valid points and the goal was learning from the experience we all had combined.”
After that conversation, we both grew a new respect for each other. She taught me strength doesn’t always have to be standing firm in my opinion. Strength is being open to receiving new ideas without diminishing the value of yourself.
Throughout the year I have been learning how to handle criticism. I have also learned it is okay to learn more than teach even when you are supposed to be the teacher. Sometimes being the expert requires being okay with accepting the fact that no one knows everything.
I also realize there are certain people who bring out the insecurities in me. Yet, as I reflect on those people, they were the ones that others struggled with too. In reality, it wasn’t about me and me needing to be good enough. Instead, everyone has a story.
The more vulnerable we are, the more we connect. Connecting brings joy!
The more we learn to handle criticism, the more we grow. Growing is tough, yet we find wisdom and become more of all we really are!
To learn more about yourself and the various personality types in the Enneagram visit: The Growth Institute Courses
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