Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland

Stumbles and Triumphs: The Power of Reflection

September 03, 2023 Episode 120
Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland
Stumbles and Triumphs: The Power of Reflection
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever wanted a peek into the mind of someone on the brink of a major lesson learned? Join me as I take you back to a time of awakening in Fargo, North Dakota. In this candid reflection, I unveil how I turned failure into a learning experience, drawing parallels to a Shakira song about embracing our stumbles. 

Picture a botched EQ class conclusion that ended on a sour note. Instead of wallowing in regret, I've used it as a stepping stone towards growth and change. Explore how our response to challenges shape our connections with others. I'll also share the moment of clarity that made me see the past in a new light and appreciate my journey, flaws and all. Tune in and learn how to turn your mistakes into your greatest lessons.

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Cyndi Wentland:

Hello and welcome to the Intentional Leaders podcast. We are on episode 120, the time I fell flat on my face. What do Fargo, North Dakota, a stationary bike and Shakira have in common? Can you guess? Of course not, because it's a really weird combination of items. But here's my story. I was in Fargo, North Dakota, speaking at a member services association conference and I was so excited to go there because that area of the country is the only area that I really haven't been to North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho. I've traveled to the rest of the country and I thought, ooh, when someone invited me to Fargo, I was ridiculously excited. I'm sure she thought I was pretty weird and then I found out I think it's the fourth least populated state. Anyway, the meeting was delightful, the participants were awesome and we had a couple great sessions. But that's not my story. My story is that on that bike in Fargo, North Dakota, and listening to Shakira, I had an epiphany. And here's what it was. And, just as an FYI, the Shakira song that came on was from Zootopia and it's called Try Everything. It's a really cute song and I had never heard it before. But here's why it was relevant because I had a class that I did a few months ago that was on emotional intelligence. It was an in-person class, it was all day, and at the end of the class I got a question and it was a question that I thought we had asked and answered the whole day. It was about how we choose our thoughts and our thoughts create our emotions. He challenged me at the end of the day on that particular point, which I felt like again had been addressed. Anyway, I did not handle it well. I kind of tried to make light of it, but I actually kind of argued a little bit and I was a little bit snarky because I thought why are you challenging my expertise on this? I don't even think I was thinking of that consciously, but hey, I've studied this, I've taught this class, I know a lot about this and kind of like, how could you know as much as I know? Right? Anyway, I just did not handle it well and the conversation kind of fizzled out and I kind of made a little snarky comment and I vamoosed. But then in the post-class evaluation I received feedback on it. The feedback was very well written, especially based on the fact that I didn't handle that feedback well or the question well. So here's what the person said-- that "the class overall was good, but the only sticking point was the instructor's insistence on emotions as a conscious choice in all situations and the unwillingness to hear and consider the class's experience and intuition on the subject left somewhat of a bad taste at the conclusion of the session. The two perspectives could have been bridged and connected without either side being wrong. There was a missed opportunity to connect instead of polarize." Now, is that eloquent feedback? I was like, man, compared to how ungracefully I handled the comment and the question this person took a different approach and was very eloquent about it. I was embarrassed at my behavior, I was ashamed of it and I knew that I didn't handle it well. Anyway, as I was processing this information and I have been, I heard this Shakira song. There's a line in it that said "I still mess up, but I'll start again. I keep falling down, I keep getting hit to the ground. I always get up now to see what's next. Nobody learns without getting it wrong". I thought you know that's a pretty powerful statement and that is absolutely true, because then I connected another situation that just recently happened that I think would have been different had I not fell flat on my face in that emotional intelligence class. I do believe that the universe gives us what we need. I got the opportunity to do it differently. So recently I conducted a class for a group that I will lovingly call hostages, because their manager basically signed them up for this class and they all had to go to this training and they all had to attend. It was all guys and it was kind of I would say I'm generalizing, but it was kind of a rough and tumble crowd. They were very hard workers, they worked outside and so coming in for a class and sitting for a couple hours and there was actually two two hour sessions. I don't know that many of them were very excited to be there. How's that? Anyway, I was worried about how I was going to engage this group and I knew that it would be challenging, but I wanted the opportunity to connect and to connect the topic to something meaningful and relevant to them. I prepared a lot for this session. I did some things different. I kind of tossed out the handout, in a way, and started from scratch, trying to think about how to engage and connect them to the topic, how to minimize the challenges and how to make this really relevant. And I was so stressed about it because I thought, I could just come in and train this. I could just come in and share the information and if they appreciated it or wanted it or could use it, great. But if not, who cares? Right, I still conducted the session, but that's not how it went and I put a lot of mental energy into thinking about how to do it and how to do it well and how to do it differently, how to engage them, how to make it meaningful. What I thought was interesting is I got feedback on the day when I was in Fargo, before I got on the bike. So here was the feedback that I got that, "Cindy was exceptional, she commanded this experience and that she was engaging, utterly positive and unflappable Rushing. A handful of stray needling comments meant to derail her with a wave of positivity and teaching moments. I thought, oh my goodness, this was a very challenging group. And that was the comment was that I was able to handle it positively in the face of challenges. I was just dumbstruck at that feedback. But you know what? I don't know if I would have shown up so effectively if I hadn't fallen flat on my face a few months ago. I guess I'll never know. But what I do know is that moment when I got it totally wrong will help me to get more of it right going forward. So I am actually thankful for the experience that I had in that EQ class, knowing that I still have so much to learn, I still have so much opportunity to handle difficult moments well, and I think that difficult moment where I fell flat helped me to get up and do it right the next time. Back to this Shakira song. Here are some of the lines, " Look how far you've come. You've filled your heart with love. Don't beat yourself up. Keep on making those new mistakes. I won't give up. I won't give in until I reach the end Weird, okay. So I'm in Fargo. I'm remembering back to that experience. I'm listening to this Shakira song. And then I got this amazing feedback from this challenging group. Everything just kind of struck me that those opportunities, those missed opportunities, those mistakes, those times when we all inevitably get it wrong. I didn't have to beat myself up about it. What I did need to do is to channel it into a new opportunity to get better, to grow myself. With that group. That gave me the gift to change, to change my approach, to be thoughtful in advance about how I wanted to show up and when I was challenged, to be able to connect with that group and with that team in a way that I probably wouldn't have had I not so poorly handled that EQ class. Then I had to listen to that song Don't give up like 10,000 more times, because that's how I roll, so I get obsessed with something, but the messaging was so ironic when the universe presents those opportunities to me, where things come full circle, when I'm thinking about something with shame, and then I unintentionally channel that into changing myself in order to help others change, because my ability to handle those challenges, those questions, have everything to do with what kind of teacher I want to be and also what kind of learner I am. So I know all those things and they've risen to the surface in my level of awareness so profoundly right now, and for that I am grateful. Thank you, Shakira. And oh, by the way, that recumbent bike that I was on, oh my God, yeah, I got off it and I could hardly walk. So does it work? Yes, yes, it does. By the way, I have some flippin amazing podcast interviews coming up One with Jim Matheson, who is the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), and one with a super cool author. His name is Jake Biddle and he wrote a book called the Great Displacement, coming soon. Check them out on my website, www. intentionalleaderscom.

Falling Flat and Learning From Mistakes
Opportunities for Growth and Change