I have been a sucker for coming of age films for as far back as I can remember. I could not get enough of the depiction of the protagonist’s realization of their own worth and pursuit of their desires. Generally, in the movies, the central character is a young adult trying to find their way in the world.
Ironically, I, a full blown grownup, was yet to come of age, by that definition. The little girl from Part I and the dreamer from Part II had a lot of growing up to do by way of self-discovery. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about myself and how hard it would be to find out.
Meanwhile, for daily operations, I had blocked all hurtful emotions to maintain order. I was over functioning to perform my roles and responsibilities as superwoman incarnate. At that rate, I would have run out of power eventually like an unplugged socket. I was unaware that I even needed help, much less how and where to get it.
I meet a lot of people in a similar situation, all looking for answers and solutions to get rid of the bad feeling as quickly and painlessly as possible, like a pill, perhaps. (The TV ads in the US will probably have one ;)) I was no different. Band aid was my game!
My friend, Rachana egged me on to do a leadership insight course at the Recess College recognizing the potential for growth in me. The idea of doing courses which are unrelated to my profession was unheard of and to pay for it myself was just ridiculous. I had to overcome a lot of my own resistance to even agree to put myself through it.
As pilots, we do plenty of classroom training mandated by the regulator and paid for by the employer. We, traditionally do not follow the set corporate ladder. Hence, are unaware of the concept of personal and professional leadership programs. We are masters of our universe, what more is there to know? (The God complex may have even be invented by the likes of us.) 😉
When I was first introduced to the soft skills and self development, the inability to measure the intangibles was painful. What would I really get out of it? Do I invest in my children’s education or mine? I was clueless but took a leap of faith and it opened a whole new world for me.
When I first met Elisabeth, the director of the college, for a screening, I asked if there was “a formula” to achieve the goal, a short cut. (The pilot in me trying to reach emotional goals via a formula! Hilarious!) “Oh Boy!” she said under her breath! That was the bumpy start to my long overdue education and arduous journey toward myself.
If I look back today, what I discovered was several cans of worms.
- I was high functioning under any circumstance.
- Trying to please and get approval at any cost.
- Relationships with friends and family were off-balance.
- I had no sense of boundaries.
- Conflict resolution was an unknown and frightening concept.
- Prioritizing others over myself.
- Compromising to keep the peace.
- Lived in fantasy, not reality.
- No recognition of negative feelings.
Any of it sound familiar to you? Well, now you know that you are not the only one. The journey of discovery was overwhelming for me. It felt like I had undergone an “open-heart” surgery and was walking around unsewn. Nupur, a dear friend, suggested I talk to someone to help navigate through the storm of emotions I was feeling. Another alien concept to me. I followed her advice, reluctantly at best, and decided that I was the horse I wanted to bet on!
It has been a tough, sometimes lonely, but a rewarding journey. I have grown leaps and bounds since. So, much so that I can almost measure it.(I am obsessed with quantifying things). I have developed courage and foresight. I no longer put myself below others. It is not often received well, as you can imagine. It also means I may be doing something right.
My experiences in the cockpit and outside have taught me that interpersonal communication and conflict resolution is of utmost importance to the job. It should be made a part of basic skill training imparted to all, especially Aviation personnel where safety is considered paramount. Everything is better when we communicate better. It is my dream to make it a reality someday.
Until next time, over and out!...@thethinkingcaptain
Book recommendation: The Dance of Anger by Dr. Harriet Lerner, PHD.
References made to:
Dr. Rachana Patni, The Matrix of Enquiry https://www.matrixofenquiry.com/
Dr. Nupur Dhingra Paiva, Author and Psychologist. https://www.theartofsport.in/
Elisabeth Henderson, Recess College, UK https://recesscollege.org/
Parivarthan, Bangalore https://parivarthan.org/