Choose your teachers.

Wow. I am trying to wrap my head around the crazy fact that my life is about to change dramatically. I have recently received my final grades for this semester and passed the final defense of my Master thesis. I will be leaving school at the end of this month – after 19 (!!) years of uninterrupted education. [ … oh some great things are in the making, stay tuned dear My Global Life readers!]

I am not going to be a student anymore. That thought provoked some serious negative feelings in me. Being a student is such an immense part of my identity. I love to be a student. And even though I have sometimes lost my believe in excellence, have struggled with finding energy resources within myself to finish this well and at least try to enjoy the process during this last straining, sometimes even painful, year of my double Masters degree – I still want to be a student. As I have realized though: Under my own conditions and command. Weirdly, I am starting to feel, now that my formal education is over, that I finally have time to study again.

I was once more amazed how you tend to attract those things that you need and want at a certain point in time – by merely shifting your focus and attention. This time a much needed lesson came in shape of a favor a dear friend asked me for, which turned out as an eye-opening instance (in many respects) for myself. She asked me for advice and a little coaching concerning a skill that she admired in me and wanted to improve in herself. What a brave move! And what a great gift for the both of us.

Not only did this provide a wonderful bonding opportunity – it was also a source of mutual learning beyond what we had initially intended. (And gave me an opportunity to indulge in passion for teaching and coaching – wohoo). While I sincerely hope that I could help her in a truly beneficial way – I myself gained some valuable insights, worth sharing:

  • Find your teachers – every single one of us is a student in some and a teacher in other areas. Two important lessons follow (1) You don’t have to be an expert in everything and (2) everyone (yes, EVERYONE) can teach you something. Choose to listen.
  • It can appear incredibly difficult, or even embarrassing, to open up to an acquaintance or someone we admire for their skill and merit. Sometimes we are too proud to ask for advice. Or are stuck in the believe that we don’t deserve help. Why would somebody we don’t even know that well want to help us? Next time think about this: I honestly believe that acknowledging someone’s capabilities, skills, behavior, attitude or approach may be the best and most honest compliment you can give to someone. Humans tend to want to share their acquired wisdom. And what are you loosing if this one person doesn’t want to help? (Also: The more people you approach the higher the odds of success, and the easier it gets.)
  • Learning from each other requires opening and authenticity. We become vulnerable, acknowledging what we perceive as our own shortcomings. Really, I think this is an incredibly brave and humble act. What’s more, it is a great way to build true connection. There’s your real life, merit and interest based personal networking that reaches far beyond exchanging business cards.
  • And my last and simple truth: Giving back is a beautiful reward in itself.

Some say we should surround ourselves with 1/3 peers, 1/3 teachers and 1/3 students. The more I live by this principle, the more satisfied, content and successful I am. What’s your take on these thoughts? Who can you learn from – who can you teach?

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