On Thursday, June 14, I had the privilege of leading the Jewcology Public Narrative Training at the Teva Seminar on Jewish Environmental Education. With my amazing team of co-facilitators, we organized a full-day training which taught 12 Jewish environmental leaders to tell their leadership story. Videos from the different parts of the training – including model stories – can be found on Jewcology’s website at http://www.jewcology.org/content/view/Videos-From-the-Recent-Jewcology-Public-Narrative-Training.
For me, this was the first time I’d ever led a full-day training. I’ve led dozens of 45 minute, one hour, hour and a half sessions on Torah and the environment, on Jewcology, and a wide range of related topics.
But a full day training is a different kind of animal, and I was fully aware of it. It’s kind of like the difference between writing a short story and a novel. You think a novel is just longer, but if you try to write a novel you will discover that it’s not just the length – it’s also the level of complexity. You have to figure out not just what you want to teach but how to structure it, and when to reveal what. In a full day training, you have to think of the day-long experience of the participant.
In my preparation, I ended up with 19 pages of notes and more than 30 slides. Just creating those materials was a great thought journey for me. As they say, you never really know something until you have to teach it, and I felt myself grow in understanding of public narrative through the preparation process.
I had a personal breakthrough in the process of preparing for that training, and I’d like to describe it for you in case it is valuable for you. In general, I’m a perfectionist, and one of the things that drives my perfectionism is a fear that I might not be enough. I try to be perfect in order to prove that I’m enough. That process – trying to be perfect and trying to be enough – is stressful and exhausting. Of course, I’m never perfect no matter how hard I try – providing more evidence that I’m not enough!
A few days before the training, I was in a personal development class organized by Landmark Education, sitting with a friend and exploring what was predictable as I headed up to Teva to lead this program. What I saw was that I’d be anxious about the program beforehand, successful but nitpicky about the experience, and exhausted and burned out after leading it.
I was looking to see what was missing – what other way I could be that might be more helpful. And suddenly I saw it – it was so simple! – what was missing was just believing in myself. I had to believe that I could do it. Instead of fearing that I wasn’t enough and trying to be perfect, I had to take on that I was fully capable of doing this.
That might not be a surprise to anyone else. For weeks my coach in the process of preparing the training had been telling me I knew this material and could do it, and I didn’t need to worry. I listened, but I didn’t really believe her. But that night, seeing that I could just believe in myself, was a big realization for me! Finally, I took on that “I’ve got this” – that I’m capable and I don’t have to try to be perfect or worry that I’m not enough.
Leading the training from this place was totally different from previous experiences. Instead of worrying that I wasn’t enough, I believed in myself and I did what needed to be done. It was amazing because I didn’t feel stressed or worried. I felt relaxed and competent. Even when stressful and unexpected things happened, I was able to go on without getting upset with myself or other people. I was just there, in the moment, leading the training.
The training wasn’t perfect, of course. But, we accomplished what we set out to do. (Being perfect wasn’t the point, anyway.) So I was able to feel that it was a success even though it wasn’t perfect. This was, after all, my first time leading this sort of training. Of course there is plenty I can learn for next time… and that doesn’t take away from the accomplishment we had.
After I completed the training, I realized that everyone else had known I was capable for a long time. It was only me who had been doubting myself. I had been playing a game with myself, of believing that I wasn’t really enough and then being *amazed* that I pulled it off. No one else was amazed. They simply knew I could do it. It had gotten to the point where I was sometimes disappointed that people weren’t amazed! Really, that was the highest compliment of all: that they knew I could.
Now that I know myself as capable, there is so much more that I can take on and so much less worrying about trying to be perfect. I realized that not being enough was like a stick I used to prod myself into action – when really “believing I can” is a much better motivator! When I know I can, I will – without the suffering that comes from trying to be perfect and to be enough.
Thanks for listening – and please let me know if this story can be helpful to you in your life, too!