Episode 51: I am a Teacher – Leadership Arts Associates

Episode 51: I am a Teacher

 The Transcript:

Well hello there and thank you so much for listening to The Heart of It. My name is Samm Smeltzer and I am so incredibly blessed to be your host. And thank you for joining me this week as we talk about answering calls, like truly answering calls. And you’ll see what I mean about that in just a minute. Here we go.

Thank you again so much for joining me for today’s episode. And I’m pretty proud of myself. I think we’ve cranked through a whole month of episodes where I’ve really sticked true to my commitment of kind of putting out there what I’m living through and the lessons that are materializing for me. Last episode, which was episode 50, which is pretty epic. This podcast is going on three years old in November and we’re already done 50 podcast episodes. I remember looking at three episodes and thinking, “There’s no possible way this is gonna keep going. I’m going to totally give up on this.” And it’s really cool to see those things kind of build and materialize.

So I hinted in the intro I want to talk about answering calls. And I guess this should just be a theme of the show because it’s come up so many times over the last month is I am a big believer of when things repeatedly show up that it is a signal that you need to pay attention to it. And that signal could be from whoever it is in your belief system, whether it is God, whether it is the universe, if it’s a sense of energy, any of the other high end ascending religious masters that are out there. But I truly believe that. When something keeps showing up, I think sometimes it gets more blatant if we’re not paying attention but it’s trying to get our attention. And so therefore now when I see repeated things happening I just naturally gravitate there, I don’t fight it anymore.

And so over the last month I kept prefacing, like I think this is something that keeps showing up so I feel like it’s something that I should talk about. But really it’s not even something that I should talk about, it’s really something that I need to process. This week it’s interesting how it all kind of played out because I think it turned into something that I really should talk about which is why I’m talking about it today.

So yeah, so let’s back it up a little bit. So one of the things very early on in my career when I transitioned into corporate training I really enjoyed being in front of people and helping people. One of the things that I didn’t do when I transitioned into corporate training as an industry and as a practitioner is label myself as a teacher. It makes sense, typically that is what you are, you are a teacher, you’re teaching people, typically adults, training them in something for their job, but I never really viewed myself as a teacher. When I opened up Leadership Arts Associates and I started diversifying my portfolio professional development options I did do a large amount of work initially with spiritual teachers because I wanted to learn about the exercises that they use because what I was really fascinated by was these studies done on being brave and being vulnerable and what happens in those moments of vulnerability and when we process them.

And that was introduced to me by Dr. Brené Brown. And so the first year I really was reading all of Brené Brown I was turned into reading and following Gabrielle Bernstein. And as I was doing that one of the things that Gabby Bernstein kept mentioning was that doing the spiritual work, working with people, doing that ministry, that you are teachers. Once you progress to that next level you are teachers and you’re here to teach and there are certain students that you are meant to teach, which is why she uses it in the context of basically sharing that everybody has a place. If you feel called to do that kind of work in that spiritual arena you have your place. There is your students that are waiting for you to show up in that arena and accept that. And I think I just totally combined Brené Brown and Gabby Bernstein in that whole kind of example. But that’s okay.

And so this idea of being a teacher really resonated with me and I made a lot of sense. It also was kind of reassuring to know as somebody who was just starting their own business in training and now referring to myself as a teacher that if I showed up and refer to myself as a teacher that my students, those that I am meant to teach will show up. And I’m meant to teach them to be teachers, and then their students will show up. And so that picture for me was very very beautiful in my purpose and what I was trying to achieve.

Now what I found is that I thought that I had fully stepped in and accepted, “I am a teacher, this is who I am, and so let my students come.” And I think I treated it a lot like that really old school movie A Field Of Dreams. If you build it they will come. If you build it they will come. Well you build it and they don’t come. And I shouldn’t say that. Some did come. But when I say some it was one. One at a time, two at a time. And I was so used to working in a corporate environment where people are number one, mandated to come take your classes, and then number two, once you become a known entity, like people know what they’re getting, it’s a lot easier to market in a corporate environment than it is to the entire world who you are. And your cheerleaders who you thought that you had so many but when you realize they’re all in one corporate organization, once you go out that reach only goes so far. And then in corporate life it goes so fast so it’s almost like it kind of fades away a little bit. Not out of anybody’s malicious intention or negative intention, it just is a natural kind of thing that happens is that everyone moves on, life keeps going forward. And if we don’t have those new cheerleaders you’re kind of left out in the dust.

And so I had this large amount of passion. I felt like I was embracing this new phase of being a teacher but I didn’t really have a large amount of students. And I’ve struggled with this for most of the time that Leadership Arts has been open. I go back and forth between it, between … It was really something I probably shoved back saying like, “This is not a sign that you are failing, this is not a sign that you don’t know what you are doing, this is not a sign that you’re not on the right path.” Because it’s very quickly to absorb that and say, “They’re not showing up, there’s no one here, there’s no one registering for these programs, my programs are stupid, they don’t serve a purpose. Who am I to be here to share any of this with anybody? Who am I to think that I would have students who want to learn from me? Who am I to think that I am at a place where I am a teacher and not a student?”

And the truth is that I was a teacher, but I also was a student. And at that moment over the last two years the people who have showed up have showed up because they are my students. They are the students that I am ready to teach. And looking back if I had 20 show up at a time, would I have been ready for that? And this really came to the forefront of my mind because I guess that it’s two weeks now. Two weeks? Or just last week, we facilitated a workshop called Engagement Recharted which is my newest training that I have developed in a long time, one that is a training that is a heartfelt training. It’s one that I truly serves a purpose as to providing a solution or working towards providing a solution that I’m passionate about. This one in particular is employee engagement. And removing the power for me to be engaged as an employee, removing the power only on the employer.

Every article that you read out there you either have two sides, you have self care or you have as an organization what you’re supposed to be doing for your employees. So if I’m an employee just trying to take care of myself and make sure that I can stay in a proper mindset I got to do self care. But those are basically just survival techniques to go against what this organization is doing or not doing to provide an environment that I can be actively engaged in in a positive manner. And so what I wanted to design in this workshop is to be able to flip that, that you can be in this work environment and you can find out exactly what you need to engage and to be engaged. And that empowers you to either number one, ask your employer for it, maybe empower you to make some changes because you can, maybe they’re not that big. Maybe it is a minor adjustment within yourself, maybe there was a personal or professional growth that was necessary that the leaders, because we always assume the leaders above us know everything. They don’t know everything. They also don’t have all the time in the world. And so instead of us waiting for them to identify that we are able to be empowered and identify that and then move forward and be one step closer to where we want to be, and as a result become ultimately engaged.

And so Engagement Recharted is all about flipping this concept. And when I first designed it, it’s almost a year old in November. November seems to be the big launch month for us here at Leadership Arts Associates. I don’t know why but it seems to be a tradition now because this year we have a big launch happening as well. But when I designed it I was so excited about it, like, “This just makes perfect sense and I don’t know why there’s nothing like this out there.” And so I put it out and I expected just magically people to show up. Once again the whole idea if you build it they will come. They did not come. Well I take that back, four came. Four came that first round, showed up and surprised me and came through. And the reaction was positive. I was surprised, I was nervous, but I built it, they came, and those are the students that were meant to learn from me at that time.

And then we put out … We started in digital and I thought, “Oh it’s because Samm’s better live. Everyone wants to see Samm. Nobody wants to watch these videos of me. I look weird on videos.” And so we did live sessions. And once again I scheduled them, maybe ran some Facebook ads, but I basically built it and said, “Oh, they’re gonna come.” First one, one person showed up, but we canceled because it didn’t make sense to hold it for that one person. Second time two people showed up, and by that time something inside me kind of was nudging saying, “Don’t cancel, you need to do this.” And I’m so glad that I didn’t because I think this is when it really started to sink in that I am a teacher and the students who I’m meant to teach will show up in their time, the time when I am ready to teach them.

And there’s a lot of growth, and you’re hearing that piece on this podcast. A lot of growth that is happening in between me facilitating these programs and this workshop is a very intense labor of love. It’s taking people through deep rooted self reflection cycles, it’s holding that space for them, making sure that they feel safe while they’re interacting with each other and going into these places, and then they put their trust in you to bring them back out into a place where they can kind of migrate back into society and to culture and their everyday lives without having some sort of internal shock.

And so doing that, holding that space for … Once again I didn’t hold it at all in the digital class because I didn’t see them, and then I didn’t know what I was going to be holding when I canceled that first one and I, if anything I went back, I wish I would have held that. I wish I would have. That is exactly what I needed at that time. That student came to me to be taught and I should have held that class for that one person. And then moving onto the second class for the two people that were there and I chose not to cancel it. It was one of the most impactful classes for me and I think for the two that were there. And that’s certainly what they share in their testimonials. That was the way that it felt when they left. That is the way that it feels when I still see them through our common social circles and networking professionally.

And when I finished that session then and I realized how much more labor of love it is to facilitate that session live I kind of realized that it was a blessing that it was two that showed up instead of 20. I don’t know if I would have been in a place as a teacher to handle 20. But after we did these two I was like, “Whoa, I’m ready. We’re gonna schedule another one and it’s gonna fill.” I went all in with some kind of marketing tactics. I was trying to blast it everywhere, share it everywhere, get people there. And when it was all said and done and the registrations came through we ended up with eight. And my goal, as time went on and I was getting like … If we get two almost immediately, which is always interesting to me. So it’s like I get exactly what I had before. And part of me is like, “I got to get to five. If I get to five that’s a really good group.” And so when we got to eight I was pretty ecstatic. My original goal was to like, “Let’s sell it out, let’s sell every spot that I have.” And when I realized that I wasn’t getting the traction like that that’s when I was like, “Let’s do five. Five will be good. Five is like a good growth in the trend.” And when we got eight I got so excited.

And then I got very overwhelmed. Facilitating for two was so much. Now facilitating for eight. What is that going to be like? And it changes. It changes when the group size gets bigger and how the discussions go. And then it also changes with the people that you have in that space. And so I went and did it. And this is when, two weeks ago, that it really sank in. I am a teacher and I am meant to teach. And those that are meant to be my students will appear when I am ready to teach them. And that’s exactly what has been happening over the last year, over the last two years. If you were to take the path of my personal professional growth and the stats of what is happening at Leadership Arts Associates in regards to our programming, they are perfectly aligned with what I have going on there and kind of what that equates to over there.

And so the last reason why this really came to the forefront of my mind that I needed to share it and speak about it is because of what we are launching in November. So the program that we’re launching in November, if you have not seen it floating around Facebook, if you have not heard me talk about it or seen any of the videos, and for whatever reason I have not really talked about it on the podcast, and that’s a shame on me because I need to. And that’s why I’m talking about it now. But the project that was launching, the conference, the experience, the workshop, whatever you want to call it that is launching in November is called The Gentleman’s Architecture Conference. It is a day devoted, it is almost like a retreat, a shared space that is devoted for men, to create a safe space for men to facilitate a dialog that is not commonly happening with men. And more importantly it’s to create the space for that dialog to happen because it doesn’t really exist, at least not anywhere that we have found.

And this project, this launch that is happening did not just happen over a brainstorm of this year, it happened within the first 90 days that I opened Leadership Arts Associates. I knew that I wanted to provide something for men, I wanted to be of service to create something that really had the power to make a difference. And people ask why. Leadership Arts Associates is a women-owned business. It just so happens that most of my staff as I’ve hired throughout the years are women. And here I am so passionate about a men’s conference. And I’m sure when they see the posts and if they follow the trail back to who’s hosting it, why? Why a woman is hosting a men’s conference? Is this about a woman trying to tell men how they should be? And that’s absolutely not what it is.

In fact one of the things that really kind of was the final push to motivate me to start bringing this to life is I was sitting at a event, a women’s only event, you can call it a women’s empowering event, a women’s networking event, and they had a speaker that was there that had some very strong opinions, but the conversation that began to happen amongst the women in the room was talking about fixing, fixing men, making a space for us to teach them the proper way to be who they should be. And that really hit a cord within me.

Like who are we to tell anybody who they’re supposed to be? And I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman, I’ve always expected and I’ve been incredibly blessed that I have worked with men who have treated me like their equal. It’s never ever come up about my gender and that being in my wheelhouse of my ability to achieve something. I’ve had a couple of instances where it’s been age, because of the way that I’ve grown through there. So as a young woman I worked with a lot of men, professionally a lot of them were my mentors, a lot of them took me under their wing. A lot of them were the ones that affirmed me the most, that got me to succeed professionally and keep going down this path and to push and drive harder and harder. And none of them ever, ever brought up the fact that I was a woman. And I don’t know what their backstories are, I don’t know what their childhoods were like that got them to a place where they can interact with me like that. But I know that they had a huge impact on me.

And as I look at my friends and my friend’s marriages, when I look at my marriage, and start to have a relationship with a man where you can have these vulnerable kinds of conversations, you start to realize that many of them don’t have any other place for that. So the hope is that they find a bond with a partner where they feel safe that they can be vulnerable. And in some of those relationships it’s not a safe space, whether it’s because of gender stereotypes of who you’re supposed to be as a man, and one of them is not being weak or vulnerable. But we’re all human. We’re human. At the very base of this we are all human. We all have feelings and we all have a desire to connect. We all do that in our own ways. We all have our own what we like to call at Leadership Arts mode, which is our own stylistic way of tackling life. There is no playbook for men and playbook for women of, “This is how you have to do everything. These are 110% proven the only behavior that is acceptable for you to be successful.”

And I know that I went a little bit on a tangent, but these are things that I have been encountering, these are things that I have been feeling, and this is why we are now launching this men’s conference. I know that I am a teacher. This is not a conference for me to teach men. However, what I am good at and what my background is is in training and development, designing programs, creating educational programs that create a space and the environment for the transformation to occur, and create the environment to increase that likelihood for it to happen. And so my skills and abilities are truly on the backside. They are more so being the teacher or the facilitator for those that are showing up to facilitate this dialog, these architects that have volunteered their time, who are so gracious to allow me to be the leader to lead them into this and to trust the design that I put in place, the architecture that I put in place for this conference for men to go through.

And so once again here’s a product that has been built and I’m not sitting here waiting to see if they will come. I’m doing as much as possible to invite people to come to this event. This event, it’s called a conference, it’s more of a retreat, it is a shared space for men to come together and have the conversations that they may never know where to have. I have not found a lot of those spaces there and I wanted to create one that had a overwhelming welcome.

And really when it comes down to the three takeaways that I want to have come out of this conference, and the outcomes that I know you will have on some level, I can almost guarantee that you will have on some level if you show up and share this space, is number one, a sense of clarity. You will be clearer on something, where it is where you came from, the stories that you’ve told about your childhood and what they mean to you and why they really mean to you, why something may have happened to you, or if you’re meant to be a teacher and there’s going to be students that you’re meant to teach at this conference, and they’re gonna come and listen to you in those breakout sessions. So a sense of clarity. I truly believe you’re going to get clearer, clearer on something. It could be as small as just a clearer memory, it could be as big as seeing the bigger picture.

Number two is I want you to share, and you will have the opportunity to share, to come and just once again, facilitate this shared space, so that sharing can occur. On whatever level. That could be I share my name and where I’m from and I connect at that level to the bigger, “I want to have a vulnerable moment, I want to share something that I’ve never had the space to actually talk about.”

And then last but not least is change. At the core of this is that I want to start making a difference. I want to be part of a change. And whatever fashion that needs to happen. I don’t claim to have all the answers here, I’m creating a framework for this conversation to occur. And at the end there will be a change. And once again it could be as small as a change of like, “I thought this was going to be weird but it was a really great day,” to a complete change of perspective. And I think every architect that has signed on for this project really truly believes that, and that’s why the want to be a part of it.

So that conference is happening on November 2nd from 8:00 to 4:00 here in York, Pennsylvania. So if you’re local to the region. If not and you want to come, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I’ll be happy to help get you connected with what are the best hotels in the area. In fact the event is happening at a hotel, so you can stay there. But to find out more go to BeTheManOfYourStory.com. BeTheManOfYourStory.com and learn more about it. And if this entire episode has sparked any kind of questions for you please do not hesitate to reach out. You can email me at Samm with two M’s, S-A-M-M@LeadershipIsArt.com. And just to leave you with I think all of us are teachers, whether we want to accept it or not, one day you will. And when you do accept it the students that you’re meant to teach will show up. They will, without a doubt. And if what I’m saying about this men’s conference, the design of what’s happening and what we’re trying to achieve, if you know someone that it will serve, please share with them, invite them. I know that the greatest invitation to this conference comes from those who can have the trust with those individuals. And I promise, I wholeheartedly promise to protect this space and make sure that it is safe and that you will leave clearer, with a sense of clarity, with an opportunity to share, and we’re gonna make a change. Thank you so much for listening.