When I was training to become a certified life coach through, I learned the founder of the school’s philosophy: Everyone we meet is both our teacher and our student. Those words instantly resonated with me.
From the moment I heard those words, I stopped looking at others as a lesson or a blessing and instead began seeing people as both my teacher and my student. This mindset has helped me connect on a deeper level in not only my long-term relationships, but also my new relationships. When I meet someone new, I immediately feel that we were brought together to learn from each other. I feel a stronger connection to the people around me and it provides me with gratitude for each person who comes in and out of my life.
Believing that everyone you meet is both your teacher and your student sets the foundation for a relationship that is surrounded by gratitude and openness. When you are present to learn and teach, you let go of an unhealthy ego that self-doubt and the fear of judgment can bring.
At a memorial service of a dear friend, I witnessed a number of beautiful testimonies from friends and family members about the impact she had on their lives. While listening to these beautiful and often humorous stories, I found myself becoming sad. I realized these were stories and words of gratitude that were being said about her but were never said to her. At that moment, while sitting in the church pew, I decided to challenge myself to sit down with 50 women in my life, some longtime friends and others newer acquaintances to tell each of them what I’ve learned from them. I gave myself a year to complete this personal challenge.
In these conversations, I was not just the student sharing what I had learned, but also the teacher sharing with my girlfriends how I saw them and what strengths of theirs have made a difference in my life.
While this was going to be a one-time project, I discovered the unexpected magic that was happening in my relationships. My relationships with friends were becoming deeper and more meaningful through these conversations.
During COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, I repeated this process, but this time via Zoom® meetings with 51 girlfriends. And I asked the question, “What is your mess that became your message?” I was amazed by the stories and struggles of the women in my life, including my closest girlfriends. I was surprised by not only the one-time messes but the daily messes, such as anxiety and depression, that a few of my girlfriends work through on a daily basis.
This second round of meetings elevated the concept for me that everyone we meet is our teacher and our student. I learned about the messes that have shaped my girlfriends and what obstacles have made them stronger. Through this process I not only gained a greater understanding of who they were, but a better understanding of myself, including an increased level of grace and compassion for others.
Now, in 2021 – as our country and the world is slowly opening up again, I’m making it a point to meet with a girlfriend once a week either in person or over Zoom®. I am using a deck of cards that my son gave me, which are designed to be writing prompts. I’m using these prompts as conversation starters to ask questions that I normally wouldn’t ask – which sparks unique conversations and thought.
Last year, I became certified in happiness through the Happiness Studies Academy which is taught by Dr. Tal-Ben Shahar. During the course, most of the studies shared circled back to the correlation of the strength of the relationships in our lives and happiness. It isn’t surprising to learn that the more positive relationships you have in your life, the more positive daily interactions you will experience, thus the more happiness and feelings of general well-being you will experience.
Believing that everyone’s ultimate goal in life is happiness, I encourage everyone to take the #5050friendshipflowchallenge and strengthen your relationships. It does not need to be with 50 friends, it can be with 5 or 10 friends in a year. Regardless of the number you choose, commit to it and challenge yourself. Notice the positive change having these intentional conversations will make in your life.
Realizing, that everyone you meet is both your teacher and your student – commit to taking the challenge today!
- Set a date for a one-on-one meeting. (Action)
- Set your intentions for the meeting and let go of ego. (Intention)
- Share your admiration and your observations with your friend (Teacher)
- Ask questions. (Student)
- Finally, write it down, take a photo, keep a journal, and capture the moment. (Reflection)
(Written by Shari Leid – Published originally on February 9, 2021 on Ms Career Girl)