I enter mentor relationships with the idea that I hope to become more like the person who is mentoring me. I follow their lead. I watch their movements and gestures. I see how they respond to situations. I even take note of their unique style and love of using certain words. Naturally, I try on their movements. I mirror their response to situations. I use their favorite phrases or words to describe ideas. This time of intently following the mentor puts new tools in my toolbelt, but the magic of the mentor relationship occurs when my gaze returns to me. I begin asking questions like, “How would I say that?” I start to think about my own personality and style adding to what the mentor taught me so that in the end the skills that I learned are uniquely mine.
As I was practicing teaching yoga at home, I found myself drawing comfort from using the words of my trainer. She uses certain phrases, has an energy and rhythm to leading a yoga class and I found myself mirroring her style. The next class, she called on 1 person at a time to teach parts of the class. Every student lead in their own natural way, but stayed on their mat. When my turn came, I felt like I would feel more natural if I left my mat and taught while walking around the room, but no one else had taught in this way so I hesitated. In that moment, I had a question to answer. Did I have the courage to lead in a way that was true to who I am?
I stepped off the mat and as Peyton would say, “I crushed it!” After the practice ended, we sat and gave feedback first to ourselves. I was last in the circle so I had time to think about what I felt went well and my growth opportunity. Life asked me another question. Did I have the courage to share my experience of stepping off my mat? I already felt exposed in leading class off my mat but I wanted to let the group into my struggle. When my turn came, I shared how my mat is a safe place for me. I felt like I have all that I need all that I can handle within the four corners of my mat. I have always felt protected and beautiful in that space, so I shared how proud I was of myself for stepping off my mat into that new space even though I did not know how my brain would function as a teacher off my mat. The growth point I shared was that for 3 Sun Salutation A’s after I led, my heartrate was through the roof! I was so nervous about how I led and how other people felt about how I led that I did not breath the entire time. I need to learn to trust myself!
This experience made me realize that Courage & Vulnerability are interconnected. My courage helps me lead, but in stepping out front to lead I am vulnerable. I felt this in my last job but never saw how when you have one, you get the other. When you lead in a way that is true to who you are, you are putting your heart out front and arms extended in the most vulnerable position possible. Now, I know why I craved feedback from loving individuals who had my best interest at heart. This feedback was like putting a soft blanket around my shoulders. I also know why not getting feedback or only hearing criticism ripped me to shreds. With my arms extended and heart exposed, I can’t protect myself from the criticism going straight to the heart. What I can do is let it roll off me. I can choose my response, my reaction. I have the choice to attach to that criticism or let it sail on in the stream of my mind. Leading is not for the faint of heart so being called and gifted for that position comes with suffering, but I have a choice whether or not to let the suffering define me.
What are your stories that bring together Courage & Vulnerability?