This past week I have been thinking about an interesting concept. Over the years, both personally and professionally, I have had a lot of difficult challenges. Challenges always present opportunities for growth however, and I have noticed this to be a huge reality. At times, the most difficult challenges that face us are the ones which challenge our inner self-concept, our soul, and the image we believe others see within us. As a young adult starting out in the field of emergency healthcare, this was probably my most perplexing issues.
I remember learning my way as a new EMT in the back of an ambulance working alongside very talented, experienced professionals. There were many times when I did things that afterwards I knew could be greatly improved upon. Sometimes my partners would pull me aside and approach the situation with anger and frustration. These were times I would go home feeling very diminished as a person and had the thought of quitting. However, I found inspirational leaders whom I worked beside that approached me much differently. There were still the “coming to Jesus” talks back at the station, but the way they went about it was much different. These leaders would identify those things I did wrong, however would feed me with wisdom and knowledge to perform at a greater level. I learned quickly to keep these individuals within my sphere of influence. I would make it so they wouldn’t approach me, but rather I would be the first to approach them to gain strength in my weaknesses. Little did I know, this simple practice would transform who I was as a professional and as a person! It wasn’t long that I saw the power in this. Within just as couple years I was promoted to a shift captain, then to a nightshift leadership position. I would quickly scale the career latter to the point where I knew I shouldn’t have grown so quickly with as little experience as I had. What was the driving force? Well it was the power found in self rebuke.
What was occurring between the lines was the seeking out of criticism or rebuke toward myself and welcoming it. I would approach people who I wanted to be like, and I would ask them, “Scott, where is it that I am falling short?, What can I do to improve my skill?”. I wouldn’t simply ask for tips, but I would ask for criticism right to the core of my being! This is something I wanted because it helped me identify my weak areas and improve on them greatly. You see, sometimes we can’t see the areas in which we are falling short, but others certainly can. What I learned was that others are always willing to identify your shortcomings behind your back or not even express them at all. But what good does that actually do? There needs to be a paradigm shift from identifying weaknesses to learning how to communicate these in a positive manner to empower the direction and strength of others. If someone doesn’t know where they are missing the boat there is obviously a blind spot and they need a little extra help identifying it.
The challenge with self rebuke has everything to do with welcoming it. Having the self strength enough to approach some of your best friends and asking them, “hey, where am I falling short in my marriage, my life, my career?” takes a lot of courage. I have been known to say in the past, some of the most difficult conversations you will ever have are usually the most important and life changing! There is a lot of beauty in all of this that needs to be recognized. For one, we all live in a network where there are people we know well who we want to be like. We have access to people who we could “grow up to be like them”. They are a simple phone call or lunch date away! The second greatest thing about this is about what forward momentum we could gain from this experience, especially if we are not seeing any personal growth at the moment. How would it be to get a real life report card of how you are doing and find areas you could improve on? I think this simply idea is a remarkable keystone to our ultimate happiness!