The Right Room

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Harvard University to complete a course through their School of Extended Education. I signed up for the class because I keep finding myself in a role I never expected to play – consultant. Shafer Leadership Academy’s public classes in leadership have opened doors to providing those same classes privately to interested organizations. As our reputation for offering content both publicly and privately has grown, organizations have come to us asking us to help them solve specific problems.

And as a nonprofit organization we like to help.

As result, when funding became available through the Ball Brothers Foundation, I jumped at the opportunity to take the “Consultant’s Toolkit” last month in Cambridge. I know enough about consulting to realize that there is so much more to learn, and what better place to go than Harvard to learn it?

From Greens Fork to Cambridge

To be honest, I was as intimidated as I was excited to attend. As a first-generation college student from Greens Fork, Indiana there was a part of me that didn’t feel qualified to even step on campus. Harvard, after all, is a world renown haven for stunning intelligence, deep history, and rich tradition. I was concerned that it would be too esoteric and inaccessible for my Midwestern tastes.

Another part of me was concerned that I couldn’t keep up. How would I handle myself in a classroom full of bright, motivated people from across the world? What could I possibly have to contribute to the conversation? Would I able to follow along? Would I be able to learn, or would I be lost?

Opportunity Over Insecurity

Then I remembered this quote: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

People who know everything have nothing to learn. There is no opportunity for growth, if there is no room for growth.  When you find yourself in a space where you are unquestionably among intelligent, high performers, then you are presented with an incredible opportunity – the opportunity to grow.

I found myself in the right room at Harvard.

In two short days I learned helpful techniques to improve my consulting practice. I met brilliant people, working in diverse industries. I participated in activities which connected the classroom concepts with everyday experience. I even had the satisfaction of learning that my consulting process is generally “right” even if it needs some tweaks.

Most importantly, I was reminded to not let insecurity keep me from opportunity.

Rooms where we feel smart are safe rooms. They are comfortable rooms, but they are not rooms where we grow. Challenge creates change. Discomfort can encourage expansion.  

And at the very least, there’s nothing like drinking coffee at Harvard Square.

Contact me if you’d like to learn more about our consulting services.

About the author:

Mitch Isaacs was named Shafer Leadership Academy’s Executive Director in May 2015. In this role, he works closely with the organization’s board of directors to fulfill the mission of the organization. He is responsible for creating vision, connecting with stakeholders, administering program offerings and leading the organization in meaningful ways.