Monday, July 26, 2010

We Are All Teachers

I just spent a glorious week in Victoria, British Columbia, learning a new tool based on Temperament Theory with Janice Parviainen. Janice is the author of a book entitled A Courage to Love Yourself and the creator of a series of cards and didactic tools that accompany the learner on their personal journey. I first met Janice in May at a weekend retreat in Port Perry (Ontario) to become A Courage to Love Yourself Circle Master. Since then, she has become a very dear friend, a sister of the soul.

Back in May our relationship was straightforward, Janice was my teacher and I was her student. As time goes by, our relationship is starting to shift and expand. There has been times when I have been the teacher and she has been the student.

Janice has an interesting theory about this. She believes that every human being goes through three stages of life: mystery, mastery and mysticism.

In youth we stumble around the Mystery stage. We are inherently curious and much more courageous when we are young. We have an appetite for life. We explore what life has to offer like travellers on a jungle hike. We clear a path for ourselves through the thick vegetation, noticing along the way the vivid colors and smells, befriending the animals, encountering dangers. In order to survive, we quickly learn to distinguish between what feels right and what doesn't. Through trial and error, we discover our strengths and our inherent skills and abilities. Because we all desire being good at something, we start investing our time and energy in developing mastery in our unique skills sets.

I have witnessed that phenomenon as I watched my two daughters grow up. To supplement their academic learning, we have introduced the girls to all sorts of activities: music, dancing, soccer, ringette, arts and crafts, skating, skiing, martial arts, etc. My eldest daughter Nadia discovered at age 10 that she loved playing the flute and is now enlisted in university to major in music. My youngest daughter Maya loves drawing and always seems to have her sketch book with her everywhere she goes. She borrows “how to” books from the library and takes “lessons” from more experienced artists who post video clips on YouTube. She draws incessantly. The walls of her room are papered with close to a hundred of her drawings.

In the Mastery stage we are willing to invest some time and effort into our learning. We are even willing to ask for help to learn. No one is telling us to study or practice. We WANT to. We do it because we are internally motivated to build, polish and even surpass the initial sets of abilities we were gifted with at our birth. The motivation is to become better simply because we know we have the potential to be better. There is great personal satisfaction in seeing an innate ability grow and flourish. Much like a seed of potential planted in the fertile ground of our being that we encourage to grow with love and attention.

Mastery then transcends into Mysticism through the act of teaching and mentoring. When one has achieved mastery in an area, others will seek them out as teachers. When we are asked to teach others we delve even deeper into our field of expertise and as a result we become even more skilled and knowledgeable. There is a saying that goes, “If you really want to learn something, teach it.”

When a student asks you to become their teacher, they are honouring you. In effect, they are saying “I see something in you that I admire and respect and I want to learn from you.” The relationship between a student and a teacher is a two-way street. Every teacher needs a student so they can both experience a deeper learning. When a student appears, the teacher’s passion in his/her field of expertise is reignited. The student’s thirst for new knowledge challenges the teacher to go deeper into their own learning. In turn, the student shares his/her knowledge and unique perspective with the teacher. Together they grow and expand the boundaries of what they know. The learning is inter-connected. The student and the teacher are inter-connected. Everything and everyone are inter-connected. With this realization begins the Mystic stage...

At what stage are you? Don't be shy. Admit it. You are at the Mystic stage if you are reading this.

Be courageous.

Reach out to someone and offer them a moment of teaching from your book of life. You do not need to be a music virtuoso, a nuclear physicist, or an NHL star hockey player to have something to teach. There is no need for academic credentials, framed diplomas on your wall, letters after your name, or impressive titles on your business card. Do not discredit what you know as inconsequential or trivial. We all have important lessons to teach. We all have important lessons to learn from one another.

A boss can learn from his / her administrative assistant. An elder can learn from a child. A company CEO can learn from a street person. A parent can learn from a son or daughter. A teacher most definitely can learn from a student. I know this for a fact because I have witnessed it in my own life.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote "We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey."

Share freely who you are and share what you know. The world will be a better place as a result. That is what we are here to do – LEARN.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Life is a mission

As I was driving by a church in my neighbourhood I saw a sign that said: "Make your life a mission, not an intermission."

A simple statement yet very powerful at the same time.

One thing I know for sure is that I am here, on this lovely planet, for a purpose. I am grateful that, with age and experience, I have come to know how I can make a difference in the world. Every twist and turn of my life has prepared me for what I need to do now.

I used to have many personas, the Sylvie at work, the Sylvie at home, the Sylvie with the extended family, and the Sylvie at rest (whom you very rarely saw...) I am happy to say that more and more who I am and how I present myself to the world are the one and the same. That is what I call being authentic.

Recently, I did an exercise to select my top 3 values. I sorted and sifted through a deck of cards containing hundred of value words. It was really tough to get it down to my top three. Authenticity is one of my core life values. Interestingly enough, I think that helping people find and express their authentic selves is also my life mission.

I see my life purpose as creating openings for people's spirits to emerge and flourish.

Have you reflected on the big "Why am I here" question lately...or ever? Is the life you are living in congruence with your own unique "why"? Or has life been a long intermission up to now. Just going along for the ride? To paraphrase Dr. Phil, "How is that working for you?"

I will be away on a business trip for a while - next posting will be the week of July 25.