Thursday, 2 April 2009

what i've learnt

whew, tonight is the first free night i've had at home this week. i really was planning to have a quiet year this year and cut down my involvement in the various groups i'm involved with. but it just hasn't worked out that way.

monday i had 3 meetings back to back: a monthly community radio board meeting, the office of ethnic affairs workshop, then an AGM. i got home around 9pm, after having left at 8 in the morning. tuesday was a meet-the-teacher evening which went well, plus doing the usual chauffeuring that comes with parenthood! last night i had a social visit and a teleconference.

it's not that any of these things are stressful in themselves, and i did enjoy everything that i was involved in. i guess it's more of a mental thing, a feeling that my mind doesn't have a chance to reflect and relax. which was why the holiday in malaysia was so good. i'm sure i'm one of those people who has a hard time saying no, and i probably should refuse commitments much more often than i do. on the other hand, i feel a sense of responsibility towards the community i live in, and know the importance of helping to shape that community.

i was thinking this afternoon of all the experiences i've had because of community work, and the skills i've gained. earlier this year, i gained experience in interviewing prospective employees and choosing the best candidates, as part of my work with shama. there are plenty of other employment issues that keep cropping up, so i'm getting good experience at being an employer.

as a member of the legal aid review panel (which i was for three years), i learnt how to write legal stuff that could potentially be challenged in court. it had to be tight and clear, it involved researching previous cases and making sure the logic couldn't be faulted. it also involved working in a team.

as a trustee of community radio, i'm learning so much about radio broadcasting and about governance. it's a different type of role to shama, with different challenges. again, i'm an employer and have gained experience in conducting a performance review and in leading a strategic planning workshop.

my work with the labour party has given me a whole range of skills, i don't even know where to start! i think the biggest one is patience, and learning to put negative things aside to concentrate on the outcome you're looking for. politics certainly helps you to toughen up, and i'm still going through that toughening process! i still don't take criticism well, and i know that's something i have to work on. i look at rt hon helen clark, and her attitude to criticism: she's just so good at shrugging it off and carrying on, it's pretty amazing.

it's also helped to develop my negotiation skills, as well learning to put my own views aside and work for the greater good. that's often a hard one, as i find i have strong beliefs about various things, but if i can't convince a majority towards my view then i have to accept that and keep on working for the group.

competition is also not something i feel comfortable with. i'm a person who likes to work collaboratively, and i find it really hard to compete against people i've worked with and really like. it's such a strange situation, but i think i've gotten on top of it.

the interfaith work teaches me to be sensitive in what i say, and to learn to respect other ways of seeing the world. even when i totally disagree with them! it's such a good way to learn to value people for who they are and what they do, regardless of what they believe. it's an area where differences are strong and deep, which makes the positive interaction even more meaningful.

the islamic women's council has given me the opportunity to do a reasonable amount of media work. some of that work has been challenging, particularly because of the global environment in the last decade. but i've always been treated with respect, and remembering to never lose my temper has really helped.

with the blogs, i'm improving my writing and debating skills (i hope!). i still love writing, and there aren't many days when blogging feels like a chore. even on those days, once i start, it doesn't feel like a chore for long.

so there it is. i feel really lucky to have been involved with these various groups and to have met some truly amazing people along the way. some of them (like my co-bloggers & people who have commented on the blogs) i haven't even met in person, but the interaction is no less precious because it has happened only in this virtual world. i'm happy to be learning so much, in so many tangible and intangible ways.

yup, in this particular moment, i feel that life is good.


Deborah said...

Good! I've said it before, and I hope I have many opportunities to say it again - Anjum, I admire you so much. And I've very glad to have this virtual friendship and connection with you; it's a privilege to be working alongside you on something.

stargazer said...

thanx so much deborah - like QoT i'm blushing! the feeling is entirely mutual...