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Thursday, January 20, 2011

scaredy cat exposed

It's been brought to my attention in various ways, that I am a scaredy cat. It is pretty evident that I am fearful to push myself outside of some invisible walls that I have made for myself. I have multiple examples to call upon:

Let's begin with my new workout routine: I sweat while working out, and have considered pushing myself to the limit, but was confronted by two events: a) I can push myself to the point of throwing up, which isn't an activity I associate with getting in shape, so I don't (it's about the lactic acid, nothing more. I promise I don't have an eating disorder.) b) a fellow gym compatriot that said I wasn't working hard enough if I wasn't sore or laying on the gym floor exhausted after workout. In other words, I am a sissy pants. Scared to go to the physical point beyond what I'm used to. Our conversation hung in the back of my might this morning as I shlepped heavy weights across the floor and completed my various workout routines.

Exhibit B: Talking with my class yesterday, I said that I really wanted to change things up and make the class better for them. They, thinking whatever students think when a professor makes such statements, responded with yeah, let's throw away the syllabus and do something different. My response, outloud I might add, "Yeah, ok, but (wait for it!) I'm scared." So, I hurumphed and deliberated and resolved to stop there. I mentioned that I had incorporated service learning in the past and would be willing to do it again. I also told the students that if they have ideas, to share them. However, I'm still not happy with that. I'm feeling very unresolved about it, in fact. I do want to shake them up. What I typically find problematic is that service learning has an investment of time and students put aside their responsibilities for a project when other "more important" courses have deadlines. Comments they make has to do with their major courses. Hurumph.

Exhibit C: I tend to shy away from conflict. Don't like it, never have. So, in our meeting this morning with other Sustain faculty, it dawned on me, that I would want input from faculty that would be participating in the project so that their voice is heard and they are part of the collective whole, so (here it comes again) I will less likely be confronted with conflict over issues that could have been talked through earlier when time played less importance in the equation. (That sentence is problematic on so many levels, but I digress). I'm scared of the potential for conflict, so in my mental model, constructing an environment that decreases the likelihood of it is a bonus. Knowing this about myself has implications for bad outcomes. Growth gets stymied without confronting problematic behaviors, so you tend to stay stuck. The potential to avoid conflict can result in not getting heard or being silenced. Other things too, but I'm running out of time. metaphorically, what is conflict to you? a question posed to me several years ago. The answer has changed over time-my metaphor has shifted partially because of the scaredy cat in me.

So, there you have it. The rumblings in my head. (Apologies for lack of editing.)


  1. Conflict is a funny thing. I think you are right that conflict is very useful. Roger says it is the place to work, that constructively working with conflict is how to collaborative find something new.

  2. Hi, if I could recemmend a book? "S.E.R.I.O.U.S." This is a workout methodology used by elite endurance athletes. It is interesting in that it recommends a kind of disciplined laziness. The author contends that a regimen of long very low heart rate workouts interspersed with a set of more intense activities is necessary for fitness, I used this for several years when I was singing and free diving and was in amazing shape. It has nothing to do with soreness, puking and particularly nothing ot do with the workout as a form of competition, though it is for training as an endurance competitor. It also looks at the workout as something that happens over the course of a year while you prepare for a season of events, rather than something that you measure on a daily or weekly basis.

    In a team or collaboration for me there is never the question of "what if" there is conflict. What if something goes "wrong"? The question for me is always more like "Who will we be together, with one another, *when* something goes wrong? This is a useful moment of reflection. Who do we wish to be together in moments of conflict and apparent failure and how will we practice and remember that?

    Personally in my experience of you, I do not find you a skeerdy cat. In the moments when I am really scared, I do not have access to reflection on the matter. Typically I cannot even notice or confess my fear. I am just in it and defended about it. Aristotle reflects on the nature of bravery using the analogy of saving a drowning man at sea. His view is that the person who unthinkingly dives in to save the person may not necessarily be brave. The person who recognizes their fear and still dives in is brave for him.

  3. I read these comments awhile ago, but never commented. Thanks for your feedback. I will look into SERIOUS. I've noticed a pretty radical change in my metabolism with the workout I've been doing. I hate going to the gym to do cardio, which I'm not doing with gymnazo. I do like the feeling of physical strength.

    RE: conflict: I had never thought about whose with you in the conflict process before. It triggers and most definitely challenges my ideas of the conflict process. One fear within conflict is my inability to create a message in the moment. It's only after, usually long after, that I think -- oh, I should have said that. When someone confronts me with my transgression, I shrink. I think that is where the scardy cat sleeps only to be most rudely wakened and unaware of how to react.