Monday, 3 November 2008

Core Day One - Satisfaction

Am I dissatisfied?

Well, am I?

If I'm not then I can't learn profoundly. Or that's what Tony claimed today on Core Day 1. To be fair, he did explain himself that a more technical word would be 'discontinuity' instead of 'dissatisfaction', as he tried to bring Boyatzis theory of self-directed learning down to a level where us proto-leaders could understand it.

One of the participants in the room challenged Tony on his use of the word and I have to admit I felt a certain unease with it. Dissatisfied. It sounds so... unsatisfactory - a word that sends fear shivering down the spine of every teacher I know. Dissatisfied. It's only two steps from incompetent.

For me the defenses came down - I begin thinking to myself - I'm content. No. I am content. I have a great job, a great family. I'm happy in my faith and my life choices. I do have some regrets, but then, who doesn't - they help to bring life's achievements into sharper focus. My feedback report, which I wrote about previously was positive - my colleagues seem to think highly of me which is very affirming...

Dissatisfied? No not me. I can't be.

But maybe it's the connotations within the word that are me holding back. Dissatisfied is defined as being 'discontent' and even 'disgruntled' (which has to be said is one of the best words known to man). It's a word that speaks of the whole being - mind, body and soul. But we are complex beings - many-faceted even. Surely we can be mainly content but dissatisfied with one or two areas of our life - or even dissatisfied with a certain context or situation we find ourselves in.

As I've begun to realise that I 've begun to realise that maybe I am dissatisfied. And that's why I'm here on Leadership Pathways. Tony told his swimming story, and I guess we all have stories where we have profoundly learnt something as a result of a strong dissatisfaction with our current self. The one that comes to mind for me actually happened to my son a year or so ago.

In his reception year at school, still aged four, he hadn't shown much passion for writing, forming letters, colouring or even going near a writing implement for that matter. Then, on a weekend away with church, he was in a group of his peers who all happened to be girls and they laughed at his attempt to colour in Noah's Ark. One of them even told him it was so bad that she was going to throw it in the bin when he'd finished it. Upset, but now determined - he finished the colouring and did the best colouring in he'd ever done up to that point. Since then his writing has gone from strength to strength and he even takes time to colour things in every now and again.

So have I learnt something about learning? When I heard Tony use the word 'dissatisfaction', I was uneasy, discontented, disgruntled - dissatisfied even. Maybe I have learnt something after all.

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