Have You Ever Met a Master?

Cathy Laffan returns to the blog this week! Her last post was about compassion, this week she explores masters.


Do you know what it means to be a “master”? I looked it up and found a variety of definitions including; “an artist, performer, or player of consummate skill”, “one that conquers”, “highly skilled”, and “a revered religious leader”.

In The Leadership Gift Program we learn that it’s important to expose ourselves to masters to learn from them rather than being afraid of them. Are you wondering why someone would be afraid of a master? Think about it, you’re exposing yourself to someone much wiser than yourself and that may make you feel vulnerable or inferior. You may avoid contact with the master to relieve your own anxiety about not being worthy. Before you choose to avoid a master consider what you’re missing.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few masters in The Leadership Gift Program and none of them have ever treated me as though I was inferior. In fact, each of them has been very gracious in how they shared their wisdom in support of my growth and left me feeling grateful for the experience.

Why am I asking if you’ve ever met a master? It’s because I think it’s possible that each of us meets masters in our daily life who come in unexpected forms. We may not see that they are a master due to our own assumptions or expectations and therefore miss the opportunity to learn from their wisdom.

Recently I had just such an experience. My husband and I purchased a new motorhome and with the purchase came an 8 hour orientation program to teach us about our motorhome and its systems. We arrived at the dealership just before 9:00am and were greeted at the door by a man. My first impression was that he was a mechanic. He was dressed in a white work-type t-shirt, jeans, and work boots. His clothes showed some signs that he had been doing mechanical work before we arrived. When he introduced himself and shook hands with me, he simply said he was “Joe”. No mention of a title or a role. His hands had the rough callused skin of a person who works with their hands and spends a lot of time outside. When he spoke it was clear that he was missing several of his top front teeth. After the introductions he led us through the massive garage area until we reached our motorhome and then he started the orientation process.

This is not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting someone more professional looking and outgoing; someone who “looked” like an expert or a master. As Joe continued the orientation, I sensed that he was a bit uneasy about us too. Maybe we weren’t what he was expecting either. Within a few minutes it was clear that Joe was very knowledgeable and skilled. I chose to let go of my misgivings about Joe and started asking questions to learn more. Our questions clearly demonstrated that we are first time motorhome owners with a lot to learn. As the process continued we kept asking questions and Joe patiently answered each one. On and on this went from one system to another.

By lunch time, my husband and I were exhausted and feeling overwhelmed by all the information. I think Joe was ready for a break from all of our questions too but he was polite enough not to say anything. We resumed the orientation process after a refreshing lunch. By this time Joe realized that although we were novices, we respected his knowledge and wanted to learn from him. The dynamic between all of us shifted.

https://sp.yimg.com/ib/th?id=HN.608022294152350411&pid=15.1&P=0As the afternoon progressed, Joe wove stories from his life into the orientation process. He talked about how his Dad died when Joe was just 19 and how that sad event altered the path of his life. He told us about his life on the road with a band, how he met his “current” wife, how he and his wife almost bought a boat to travel from one port to another only to discover at the last possible moment that his wife didn’t know how to swim and didn’t want to sail, how they ultimately purchased their first motorhome and how Joe felt they had probably over paid since he had to fix many of the systems, how they spent 5 years living full-time in their motorhome traveling from place to place and finding work in each place, and how they ultimately settled in one place. These stories showed us that Joe wasn’t born a master; he became a master by living life, learning from other masters, trying new things, taking risks and picking himself up and moving forward each time he got knocked down.

I could have missed this chance to learn from a master because he didn’t meet my expectations but instead I chose to set aside my misgivings and commit 100% to the experience. I am grateful to Joe for teaching me and my husband so much in just 8 hours.

So I’ll ask you again, “have you ever met a master”?

Cathy Laffan

CL Nov 2013_cropCathy Laffan is a member of The Leadership Gift™ Program and accredited as The Leadership Gift Practitioner. She is a Managing Director with 24 years of experience working for a leading global financial services firm. She has 20 years of experience in the project management field and is certified as a Project Management Professional.

A champion of flexible work arrangements, Cathy has been working remotely full-time for 4 years. Cathy is also a Toastmaster and has earned the Competent Communicator and Competent Leader designations from Toastmasters International.


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Posted in Responsibility on 02/02/2015 01:53 am
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