Pride before the leap

JamesPaek
JamesPaek

I knew that taking a leap to design a year of education would be challenging. I was leaving a steady salary, a meaningful job, and proximity to my friends and family. As I was saying my “See you laters” I began to mentally prepare myself for these challenges, but nothing could have prepared me for the challenge of fighting my pride.

For the past ten years, I worked in the non-profit religious sector. I started in that industry a novice. But through years and years of hard work, sweat, and tears, I moved from being beginner to being an expert of sorts.

Becoming a student at Ei meant leaving this space of expertise. Theoretically, I understood that I would have to leave my station as a leader and teacher in order to become a student again, but little did I know that my pride wasn’t quite ready to let go.

During Meetup 1 with Experience Institute, my ego told me to make sure that my new colleagues knew how great I was because of the skill sets that I had obtained in past projects.  My pride tempted me to feel entitled to obtain apprenticeship opportunities in which I wouldn’t have to pay dues, because I had already done so.

I was holding onto my past experience because it fed my ego, but all my hungry ego did was blind me from seeing the value of my current station: student.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but humility won out.  It might’ve been desperation to find my first apprenticeship or the unsettled headspace I was in being away from home. Whatever it was, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to make this year work, that I would have to let go of my pride and become a humble learner.

I am currently an Apprentice in Residence at Civilla, a social innovation consultancy in Detroit, MI.  Yes, there are tasks that I take on that my ego doesn’t want. But, by not allowing  pride make my decisions for me, I have already become so rich in experience and learning.

This last month, I launched the educational arm of Civilla and worked on program development with the Civilla Teaching Faculty. I even had the opportunity to teach a class on ideation with a former Stanford d.school instructor. I’ve also been given the opportunity to be an Apprentice Design Researcher on design teams that are tackling social issues in partnership with Google, The Ford Motor Company Fund, The Department of Human and Health Services Michigan, DDOT, and Detroit Fire Department. The list goes on.

Had I held onto my ego, I would have never been able to fully appreciate the education this new experience is providing. Letting go of my pride has allowed me to leap with a little more height and optimism.  I hope to continue to silence my ego this year so that I am able to grow, learn, and leap like never before.

James Paek

James has worked for the past ten years as a youth and family counselor, community leader and spiritual director. This work saw him managing community efforts with local government, creative projects, including music, marketing campaigns, and film, and campaigns against human-trafficking domestically and abroad. Working in the music industry as a songwriter specializing in top line (lyrics and melody) with artists and producers alike, James also values the connection between social change, artistic expression, and honest storytelling. James hopes to delve into the world of social entrepreneurship and social innovation through human-centered design, connecting creative design strategy and expression to promote social good.

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