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Personal Reflection Paper

MSOD 618

Hannah Elise Jones

January 30, 2018


Our Costa Rica practicum helped me to viscerally learn the value of sharing our own

stories, and being present with those of others. Our AI project in San Jose was the first example

of this. The project unfolded in a relatively expected fashion. Our client was the IT department at

Procter & Gamble, and we had the opportunity to work with another student group who was

assigned to partner with the HR team at P&G. This was a somewhat unexpected part of the

process, but turned out to be a great development, as we had a larger and more diverse group

to debrief the experience with and got to compare the work that occurred in the same

organization, but in different sub-systems.

We began the experience by meeting our counterparts in the IT department, Hernan and

Enrique, during our AI lecture and working session with the whole cohort. While they had both

been rather quiet during our work together that day, they did a fabulous job contributing to the

session on site. They were engaged and took a great deal of leadership, even stepping in when

their boss, who was the key sponsor of the work and lead the introduction to the session, missed

key points related to the vision for the session and the process of AI. I was grateful to them for

their sponsorship, and commitment to working with both us and their peers on site. Without their

support I do not think we would have had nearly as powerful of an outcome.

When we left both Hernan and Enrique were excited about the conversation, saying that

they heard different perspectives on an issue that they had been dealing with for many years,

which to them was good progress. While it is difficult to evaluate the outcome of a process that

has no tangible deliverables, or specific follow-up with the client, during our debrief, both our

main contacts, and the other members of P&G involved in the HR project expressed a great deal

of satisfaction with the outcome and shared that they were interested in doing the project again

next year. We received positive feedback on the engagement that we helped to facilitate among

the group, and both Hernan and Enrique expressed that they were grateful for the learning

they acquired, both through the Thursday lecture and their experience working with us on site.

During our work at P&G, I was struck by how challenging it was to keep the group we

were working with focused on the positive and appreciative aspects of their experience. It spoke

to my own previous work experience and how difficult it is to remain positive with when you

are experiencing pain or struggle. This proved to be an example of the larger lesson of the

importance of telling our stories. When people in an organization do not feel that their story is

being heard, or that there is space for them to share their story it can be acted out in other, less

productive ways. The same theme of stories rang true in our work in La Carpio and in our

community sessions as a cohort. I found that hearing the stories of others with an open and

present mind was incredibly moving for me. One example of this, and one that was brought to

my attention by several members of the cohort, was my experience listening to Lindsay Y. share

her story with our community. I felt incredibly moved by what she shared, not just because of the

story, but my own ability to be present with her as she shared it.

This ability to be more present with others was what shifted for me this session. I found

that two things helped that shift to occur; my new sense of groundedness after leaving my job,

and my experience of reclaiming my own story. I was surprised by the ways in which I felt

different arriving at this session than previous sessions. I felt calmer, cleaner and more present

from the moment I arrived. I attribute this to the sense of ease I have acquired since loosing the

stress of my past job. This experience has helped open me up to other alternatives that I did not

previously see, and has helped me to develop a greater sense of presence. I also realized this

session, how much my narrative, as it is told to me by others, has and still does influence my

behavior. After a helpful conversation with Gina, I realized that if I was going to be free of the

projections I feel from others, to the degree that I stop allowing them to dictate what I share or do

in groups, I need to forgive the story that has been told of me. I need to reclaim my own story so

as to show up fully and unapologetically, without minimizing or criticizing myself.

To do this, I spent considerable time reflecting on the stories that have been told about

me, about my intelligence, my performance, the decisions I have made in my life. Each of these

characteristics, or pivotal moments have shaped me, less according to my own view, but more so

according to the views of others. Growing up in a small town and standing out for my

accomplishments garnered me ridicule from peers and I learned quickly to minimize myself and

my success. Until this practicum, I was not fully aware how much this experience has dominated

my narrative and has built up both a tendency to criticize myself and to resent the actions of

others. Seeing this, I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders, one that will allow me to sit with

myself, far more comfortably than I have in the past. This was the part of my own story that

wasn't being told, and by telling it I felt more able to be fully myself in the presence of others.

I was surprised by the strength of this shift and if left me reflecting on my future in OD

and the ways in which pursuing this field has the potential to bring immense joy into my life.

When I think of my experiences with change, I am pained by all the times my story went

unheard, or was told for me by someone else. I am shocked to realize just how much the act of

having my story told to me by others, has controlled my life up until this point. I am leaving

Costa Rica with a greater awareness of my story, and the power I have to use my

story positively. My instrument feels cleaner, my voice feels more powerful and I have an acute

sense of standing on the edge of great personal and professional change.