Humility, and…


July 4th, 2011

When I was in High School, I had an English teacher who stood out from the rest. She seemed not to do the standard stuff, made classes interesting, and took us on excursions to Melbourne (in those days a big deal for a 15-year-old living in the country) and generally igniting, at least in me, a love of language and writing. I remember one bus trip where we stopped to pick up her daughter, who was about 9 at the time. Little did I know that I’d one day be quoting her in my blog.

“A very big part of surviving as a writer is about having a big enough ego to go on and the humility to be extremely vigilant about your failings; you have to have both in tandem.” Joanna Murray-Smith

I’ve never met Joanna Murray-Smith, except for that one time being on the same bus.  I plucked this quote from a recent newspaper interview just before her latest play opened in Melbourne. It struck me as being true for anyone who puts their art out there for public scrutiny.  It’s another of those situations that requires a yes, and… mind-set.

Yes, I have a big enough ego to go on, and, I know I have failings…

It’s all about being able to hold both, to be comfortable with the paradox.

Here’s some more that I think apply to those of us who facilitate:

Yes, I’m responsible for the process, and, I know I should let it go…

Yes, some people are uncomfortable, and, I know I should not take it personally…

Yes, I can’t please everyone, and, I know that’s an unrealistic expectation…

Yes, it’s easier just to tell people what they need to know, and, I know they’ll (eventually) appreciate working it out for themselves

Yes, playing a game right now might be brave, and, I know it will be worth it…

Yes, there will be times when I don’t have a clue what to do, and, I know I just have to do something…

Your turn.

2 Comments so far

  1. Adrian Segar on July 5, 2011 7:23 am

    Viv, you reminded me of one of my proudest (in retrospect) moments facilitating when I was able to say yes. I wrote about it here:

    http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/uncategorized/2010/03/conference-facilitation-lessons-from-improv-say-yes/

    The only thing I have to add about yes…and is that, on average, it gets easier with practice.

  2. Viv McWaters on July 5, 2011 3:44 pm

    Adrian, that’s a great example of accepting an offer and in describing the sort of offers that we’d rather were not made, but once they are, well, we’re left with the choice of accepting them, or losing an opportunity. I have to constantly remind myself that accepting offers that are made as a challenge, reframes the challenge for both me and the others.
    Cheers, Viv

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