I jump in with both feet.
I had driven an hour in DC traffic to Virginia to bring seven of my nine children to this “communications conference” for students. They were 17, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8 and one in the stroller. I’d left the other two behind at home.
I really only went because someone with amazing kids had highly recommended it as a don't-miss event. That was enough for me... Registering that many children for a distant, “extra-curricular” conference for something like speech training just seemed like the normal thing to do.
That was ten years ago. Ten years of learning with ICC. I say with humility and yet confidence that my students are becoming amazing communicators and influencers who care about their communities. Let me be perfectly clear, they are not perfect. No one is a completed project; we have had tremendous struggles. I have had people, however, who’ve made an effort to tell my husband and me about their experiences working with my (now much older) children and what great people they are in character and care.
What is amazing to me isn't just that my children have gained greatly from the past ten years of being trained, equipped, and mentored in the Institute for Cultural Communicators, it is also that I have learned. It is the person I can see I have become, a direct result of being a part of a deeply invested community on a mission.
So what I have learned? I have learned what I value and why.
I used to think that the best community was where I’d find all the right answers and where things didn’t ever have to change
I have learned that rather than wanting to have the right answers, I want to ask the right questions. I know now that change is inevitable but growth is optional. I want to grow. I’ve found that in community, acceptance and interest fuels influence and that contact isn't contamination.
I used to think that if I said it, it was your problem if you didn't get it.
I have learned that the validity of my communication is not in the if-I-said-it, but in the if-you-got-it. I’ve also learned that you really don't want to hear it unless you know I really care, and in particular that I care about you. It is actually true, the quip I heard at my first conference: People don't care how much we know until they know how much we care.
I used to think I was pretty innovative all by myself.
I have learned that working with others who don't think the way I do is what has made me truly innovative. Failing forward and leaping with others has propelled me to places and people I never knew existed. Creativity and innovation are a function of inviting others to your constraints.
I used to think mentoring was when someone did the things I told them to, the way I told them to do it. And I didn't have much time to spare if you didn't get with the program quickly enough.
I have learned that in a mentoring relationship, slow is fast and fast is slow, and that the danger of my unidentifiable-by-me blindspots (I know that's redundant :-) is far more life-threatening than the risk of going deep in transparent and authentic relationships.
I used to think that most of the trouble was with the other guy. Of course! Duh!
Now, I know the Bible says to take the log out of your own eye before removing the speck in your enemy's, but I guess I didn't really think God was serious. Now as my friend Anna tells me (and she is right), I have learned that, if I see myself as owning 85% of it, we can make some lovely progress.
I used to think that transformation was about following a program, about doing a lot of work.
I have learned that, yes, it is a lot of work, but the following of the Person of Jesus, who completed the work, is transformative. His love is my fuel to follow. And anytime I am powered by that Calvary life, I show that I know. I show that I have learned. I am being transformed by His Love and can be a vessel to let His Love do the transforming in others.
The lessons didn't come through one; they came through many whose names would flood this page. If our lives have intersected through ICC, you may recognize something you taught me. Whether only one interaction or many over the 10 years. Thank you.
What have I learned in my 10 years of sitting in the audience, running the halls, and standing in the front of the room? I’ve learned that I still have so much more to learn. And I can't think of a better place where to do that than in the ICC Community. I would be glad to share the experience with you. Jump in with both feet.