Thursday, September 22, 2011

What I Value Most

I think the thing I most value in another person is when she points out exactly where I'm missing it.

Don't get me wrong; I appreciate encouragement (at least informed encouragement) and affirmation. However, these pale in comparison with absolutely nailing what I've got wrong.

Perhaps my sense of value is based on frequency. I mean, how often do you encounter someone who after observing you for a few moments is capable of specifically informing you on what exactly you've screwed up (read, what you're doing that is inconsistent with your stated goals)?

As I write, I realize that this experience might be the reason I live for Thursday nights. Thursday night is when our writing group gathers to, among other things, listen to and provide feedback on what each of us has written over the previous week.

In most of my daily encounters, I am the highly skilled expert, the one to whom others look for advice and guidance. However, on Thursday evenings, I am the rookie, the novice, the one without depth of experience, the one just scratching the surface of skill-development. I am surrounded by people who, well, who know how to write. It's sheer joy. I read what I've written, someone comments, and before they've finished the comment, I've learned volumes. Indeed, the comment need not be about what I've written. As others read, I listen, conjecture, and then take in what the more skilled and experienced writers have to say.

There's nothing better than knowing that something's not quite right with your approach to something, not being able to put your finger on it, and then having someone who knows what they heck he's talking about point out what you're missing. It's exhilarating.

It's not that I mind being the the expert or goto-gal in other situations; it's just that it can become a little wearying when others begin simply to defer to you rather than developing their own skills and expertise. Surely, the weariness is of my own making; my sense of responsibility seems to increase proportionally to the gap in expertise between myself and my colleagues (something for me to work on). Nonetheless, on Thursday nights, I release any sense of responsibility for providing insight and guidance, and simply enjoy the experience of reading, listening and writing.

As I think about it, I realize that my experience may be different than that of others, that someone else might hide when in the presence of perceived experts. I see it all the time with musicians, happy to play until someone "really good" walks into the room.

What about you? In what areas are you the perceived expert? It might be something that you've never really acknowledged. How do you respond when in the presence of experts? Do you lay out all you have in the full light of day, or do you hide?

Happy Thursday,

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