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Who influenced your learning?

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

During day 1 of my MSc program we had an exercise to explore what key moments and people have influenced our learning journeys to become who we are today. I thought I’d share the exercise, my reflections and takeaways.

Draw a grid like the one below and list the 6 key people across the top. In the first column, list the following items as row headers: gender, age, race / ethnicity, education, marital status, disability, occupation and behaviours / values. Evaluate and make notes about each person based on these criteria.

Reflection questions:

  • What stands out? What are the common themes?

  • What type of people do you NOT seek out to learn from?

  • What assumptions do you hold based on these?

  • Through what lenses do you look at learning?

  • What lenses are missing? How can you get those perspectives?

When we reflected as a group, the following themes came up:

  1. We have learnt the most form those who were most different from us (even though it was hard at the time).

  2. It’s easy to go into judgement about ourselves and criticise what’s missing and why.

  3. Influence of families on us and how they make us seek out or avoid certain things.

  4. To learn something new, you need to be disloyal to what you knew / who you were before.

This last point was really interesting as there was nobody on my list from the time I lived in Hungary. I had moved to the UK when I was 26, which was a major cultural shock & a transformative experience. I really had only just started my career, I had moved to another job in a head office, to another country, I moved alone and everything was totally different. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I managed those first 2 years but I now know that I came out at the other end of this journey much stronger, wiser and had truly transformed myself. I became a completely different person, I managed to embed the cultural norms and behaviours of both cultures into my personality, which now means I am not Hungarian, not British, I am both and none. I have created my own unique world and personality much richer than before and one that baffles my old friends and even my parents sometimes. It's like having been upgraded to a better software with different coloured glasses, which you cannot downgrade any more.

The other major transformation happened 10 years ago when I went through my own soul-searching self-development journey. It started with a year in therapy, followed by an NLP, Timeline Therapy and Hypnosis Practitioner training, then a Master Practitioner training, through which I have completely changed they way I see and relate to the world. It was like I have just restarted my life's story book and had blank pages to write on. It was liberating and painful as I had to redefine what I do, who I am with and what I want. As a result I got married, I have changed my career, I moved house, I started a new a job all in a matter of about 18 months. It was a total whirlwind and I was on a high, I was happy, successful and felt really powerful. Looking it back it seems like I had came out on another level of consciousnesses in an upward spiral, like a major operating system upgrade. Again, there is no way to downgrade from here, the changes felt quite permanent.

However, I am now on another quest for transformation where I will be consciously challenging my current thinking, beliefs, practices I have carefully created in the last 10 years as not all of them serve me well and I can touch the wall of my glasses, wishing to break through them. I am looking for another software upgrade, one where I can understand relationship systems, team and organisations better, where I can relate and influence these differently. I am hoping this MSc journey will give me this transformation, where I can find my own voice.

So, going back to the exercise, looking through all of these learning experiences and looking at my sheet of key influencers, it became interesting to notice that they were mostly men, white, from corporate world, from Europe, all of them were older by 10+ years and none of them had any disabilities. Based on this reflection, I wonder what learning I would get if I was to seek out people who really challenge me, who are from different cultural backgrounds, from people of colour, from the public and non-profit sectors and people who I don't resonate with for some reason. I will look out for these opportunities, challenges and let you know how I get on.

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