“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate … “
~ Seth Godin
This week marks the end of a learning adventure almost 4 years in the making. What started out as an ‘I wonder’ quickly turned into the most incredible journey I have undertaken in my entire existence. Taking my masters work to defense Monday was perhaps 1 of the most challenging and consuming experiences I have ever encountered. It was an unknown from start to finish and I was terrified. Perhaps it sounds a little cliche & dramatic, but from where I stood, I was consumed with doubt. So much hinged on taking this research and inquiry to the committee I ruminated for weeks… months perhaps. I wanted to ensure that my success was a guarantee. I wanted those that had walked alongside me to be proud of my accomplishments. So many had given so much to my learning, it never once felt like my work, but ours. I still feel like that.
I walked many steps on my own, truth be told, lost deeply in thought. Hours upon hours, day after day, writing, analyzing, synthesizing, sense making. A new and worthy challenge offered to me daily as I ruminated and made sense of the new learning, day after day, week after week, month after month. While I struggled with each new challenge, it was heartening to know I could make sense of the work, strategize, and move forward as researcher and academic. I will own this train of thought, for I have earned it these last few years.
My blog has always chronicled my years as a learner, and I now know that the reoccurring theme of doubt while pervasive, was completely unnecessary and trite. Too long I have been focused on pinpointing flaws, inadequacies, struggles as a learner that I have taken away my voice. I am embarrassed to have spent the time & energy downplaying my skills and gifts. Time allowed these inadequacies to become who I thought I was.
This mindset has been 1 of complete domination, allowing countless opportunities to thrive and shine become about standing in the shadows, unsure of my own abilities and talents as a skilled and dedicated learner. This week chronicled a new path, 1 in which showcases the power of my own learning, my skills and expertise that are a gift to my learning community and friends, family, and colleagues that work and learn around me.
Maybe I always knew that I had important things to share and contribute… but the difference now is that I am knowingly an expert. I have spent years delving deeply into research, experience, methodology, and can now share out these new learnings and understandings with confidence. I am as strong as the tribe I have surrounded myself over the years. To walk this path with this knowledge has been a gift. Those that have stood by me and supported my learning are, and will continue to be, the most unbelievable resources.
Celebrate your gifts, your uniqueness, your individuality… who and what you are is what makes you amazing. Don’t compare yourself to the person next to you… they will never walk more than a few steps on your journey and can never completely be at ease in your shoes. Own your mistakes, missteps, and insecurites… those are the moments that become the tipping point and bring clarity along the way.
And most of all?
Surround yourself with a tribe that believes in you, allows you to shine, and never doubted you for an instant.