Leadership Life-stories: Efcharisto

I love the sights, sounds, and tastes during Week #1 of this Fulbright Specialist project in Athens, Greece. Hanging out at Panteion University, I feel like I’m slowly learning the vibe of the learning environment.

Sitting outside the café on campus while writing today, I’m watching an earnest conversation between students and a faculty member with many hand gestures and raised voices. This is fun to watch the back and forth and exchange of ideas, even though I do not understand the language.

I’ve tried to learn the language….really! In my prep work for this Fulbright Specialist project, I spent time to learn some basic Greek phrases. When I arrived, I learned that there is a whole new level of using the language that is not translated through YouTube videos.

My intent here, is to share a few thoughts about one word that I did learn – efchristo which means “Thank You” in English.

Leadership Life-stories: Quick Review

My work focuses on the idea of Leadership Life stories which is my attempt to connect Leadership, Communication, and my passion area of Storytelling. In my mind, a Leadership Life-story is made up of three parts: Identify the Formative Moment, Realize the Meaning, and Devise a way to share that story with others.

I appreciate those who are able to break down individual words, go back to the root word in Latin, Hebrew, or even Greek. An important moment for my learning, and a connection to Leadership Life-stories, came from one of the first conversations during breakfast on Day #1.

Formative Learning and Formative Moments

Trying out my Greek the first day I arrive, I came in with the full-on American accent and misplaced confidence of efcharisto after breakfast. My attempt was to give “Thanks” to our host.

Instead, I received a lesson.

Our host explained that to her, efcharisto is an intentional breath in and breath out of gratitude.

The ef- sound that begins the word is the inhale. Similar to moments that can take our breath away. A few examples may help: the first sip of coffee in the morning, the catch of breath overlooking Athens from the Acropolis, seeing a sunset just as it kisses the horizon, or hearing a statement from student and faculty colleagues here at Panteion.

During lectures this week, I’ve heard deep concerns about panic attacks, anxiety, poverty, and a desire to hear the voice of those who seem to be silenced. These moments for me have been a quick inhale of breath. An -ef that is a quick inhale.

The -charisto part of the word is the exhale and settling in to the emotion. This is where the brain and the body kick in from the moment. The groan that exhales after hearing disappointing news about the health of a family member, the satisfying sigh after the first sip coffee could be examples.

Let me attempt to draw a rough line to the practice of Leadership Life-stories. In the first step of Identifying a Moment we have the inhale of -ef and the exhale of -charisto.

Formative moments surround us all day. As I wrote earlier, formative moments are vivid and emotional connections to a remembered situation in life. Formative experiences can be positive and/or negative. Often these times leave a physical or emotional reminder. We just need to learn how to see them in the people, places, and situations. A formative moment catches our breath -ef and provides the start of settling in with the emotion -charisto.

Action Steps – Formative Moments

I’d like you to begin Identifying a Formative moment in your life and think about how this connects to Leadership Life-stories.

To get started here are a few ideas: What is a quote about Leadership that is important to you? What is a moment of Leadership that you saw or experienced that you found inspiring? What is a moment of Leadership in your life that energizes you?

Begin to develop a list of these moments that provide time to -ef (Inhale) and -christo (Exhale). Be grateful and Thankful for the positive AND challenging moments on life.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you discover.

Let's Connect

One of my strongest passions is connecting with others and hearing their stories. Even if we never work together, I’d still love to meet you, learn more about you, and hear some of your unique experiences.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you, future friend. 

Chris Hamstra

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