Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Date with Carl Gustav Jung

Two weeks ago, I signed up for the four-day “Exploration of Self” workshop, which is based on the ideas of Carl Gustav Jung. The first day would coincide with my 61st birthday, and I thought, “how appropriate that I should give this as a gift to myself.”

But a day before the first day, I received a call from one of our biggest clients – asking us to quote for several projects that could take us a year to accomplish. On top of that, we needed to make a portfolio presentation to them as they have new people on their team.

I was torn between work and self. I gathered my staff – two photographers including my own daughter who now works as photographer-account executive, and a new management trainee. I discussed with them what client needed, and guided them through the discussion on how we would pitch for the project. They had a day to put together a portfolio of impressive color prints, write a persuasive cover letter and gather enough materials for an audiovisual presentation. I told them that I would not be there to work with them, to check their work, or to lead in presenting to client. I would be out of the office during those two crucial days, and I trusted them to do the job.

By the time my photographer-husband, John, heard about the scheduled meeting with client, the team I gathered was already working on all the materials that we needed to try to convince our client that we are the best company for the projects they have in mind. As expected, he plunged in, and offered to not only lead the group in preparing the materials for the pitch, but also to be there at the actual presentation.

Then, he turned to me and asked, “Will you be there?” I hesitated but said no. “Why not?,” he asked. “I’m attending a workshop.” “What workshop is that?” “It’s a Jung workshop – on self exploration.” Now, my husband has learned through the years that I believe in continuing education and attend classes on a variety of topics, some about business, some about creativity, or on writing, or knitting, pottery, relationships, successions in family businesses, or core energy – so it no longer surprises him when he hears me mention something or somebody unfamiliar. I don’t think he has ever heard of Carl Jung, although Sigmund Freud’s name would have rang a bell but would have elicited more questions as to why I would be in a workshop like that.

On my 61st birthday, I spent the first of a four-day workshop luxuriating in a wonderful self-journey. John loves to work and would not think birthdays are occasions for not working but for me, it was wonderful to be away from the stresses of work and business, and freed from guilt for not working on a regular workday. Since Jungian workshops are not an activity that many men appreciate, I am even more thankful for this gift of time from my husband.

In my next few blogs, I hope to share what I will learn from this workshop and how I hope understanding Carl Jung would help me understand myself and the people around me, including my own husband, who very generously respected my need for this journey on self-discovery.

If you want to know more about Carl Jung, here's what I picked up about him from Wikipedia:

Carl Jung - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jung's unique and broadly influential approach to psychology emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Although he was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician for most of his life, much of his life's work was spent exploring other realms: Eastern vs. Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, sociology, as well as literature and the arts. Jung also emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern humans rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of the unconscious realm. Jungian ideas are not typically included in curriculum of most major universities' psychology departments, but are occasionally explored in humanities departments.

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