as published in Conway Daily Sun
I spend several weeks each year, attending retreats and seminars to hone my training and coaching skills. Of course, each of these adventures involves as much personal growth work as it does skills training. Personal growth work is not difficult or painful, except when it is. My regular readers know that I am always willing to share my vulnerable and uncomfortable growth lessons with you. This is one of those articles. I am writing this article from Denver, where I just finished my final week of Certification Training at The RIM Institute. Regenerating Images in Memory (RIM) is a powerful Integrative Wellness Technique useful for myriad issues personal and professional. As a RIM facilitator, it is important for me too consistently do self-work, which is the subject of this story.This story is for the benefit of anyone who has ever been, or would likely be, embarrassed at a workshop by participating, speaking or performing in front of the entire class. Picture being asked to share a personal story, or to lead the class in a dance exercise as an energy break. The worst one I have ever done until this week, was to get into a group, and lead them in a dance. Disco. The group was to follow my lead and mimic my every move. Just shoot me. I survived that exercise when I did it a year ago, but I disliked it enough to not want to inflict it on my own classes, so fear not, regular students!
Last week, my classmates and I received an assignment so bizarre, I was certain it was a trick assignment. Perhaps the goal was to get us to stand up to authority and refuse to perform such a ridiculous task that could not possibly serve any purpose other than to humiliate us. I have a great deal of trust in our instructor whom I have known and worked closely with for over a year, so I decided to play full out. Then I thought I might make a run for it instead. I could head to the airport and abandon my certification. No, no, I can do this. No way, I can do this. This cannot be done. Oh grow up and get to work, I finally told myself. It was 2pm and we had 4 hours until we were to be on stage presenting our work to classmates and invited guests. How far was the airport again?! Was I being too much of a chicken? It is not like I was asked to play Chicken Little being transformed into Wonder Woman singing This Little Light of Mine. Or worse, I could have been asked to model Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady being transformed into Dr. Seuss singing a Barbara Streisand song. Now that would have been ridiculous and humiliating, am I right?! These were real assignments, beautifully delivered by two of my classmates. I had it easy; my only task was to portray Harry Potter as the pre-wizard orphan living under his aunt and uncle’s staircase. I was to transform into John Belushi singing Soul Man. Yes, I was given the lyrics and the music, being expected to sing and dance. I don’t sing. Ever. Not even Happy Birthday. I rarely dance in front of sober people. Actually, I am certain I have never danced in front of sober witnesses. Surely, there would be valuable lessons in this exercise. To think I paid good money for this experience. I combed my hair over my forehead and donned my sexy new Harry Potter glasses. I waived my magic wand with a few spells that were completely ineffective at making the audience or myself disappear. As Harry stopped being small, he discovered powers from within. As Harry transformed himself, using the genius he found within, he grew and found his soul; his voice. As wand and wire-rims were replaced with hat and dark sunglasses… I’m a Soul Man.Lessons learned: I can sing and dance like a soul man. I will never get a recording contract, but I will do anything to become the person who can best help my students and clients. I look ok in a hat. I look freakishly like Harry Potter in wire rims and I can own that too. I am me, and once I did what I once judged ridiculous, I found that the judge voices I have carried in my head for 50 years were silent. They dared not speak. I think I scared the crap out of the voices in my head. They probably left for their own little judgmental airport for fear of being embarrassed, caught in their lies and weakness. No little voices in our head can be as big as our true voice once found and expressed into the world. You do not have to do this particular exercise, but you do have to find your voice and your soul and share them, lest you die under the weight of the weak and judgmental voices carrying lies.