a teacher’s tale and how we can apply it to our businesses

I love my clients…

They might not realize it, but I learn as much from them as they do from me.

They inspire me with their stories of achievement.

They challenge me to work harder, to uncover more secrets and to help them grow both as an individual and in business.

And together we push each other to be better.

What might surprise you is I have clients from all different walks of life; doctors, students, civil servants, mothers, business owners and entrepreneurs.

Each person posing a different challenge, but that’s what I love.

The other day I had the opportunity to sit down with one of my clients who is a teacher and being a teacher myself for so many years I was interested to hear her take on things.

She made some interesting insights into the world of teaching that I hadn’t really thought about before, but she hit the nail on the head with them.

Today I’d like to share with you what she taught me.

The theme was expectations.

She started out by telling me that what teachers think is common sense is not common sense for students. Students think differently.

Too many teachers assume students know what they must do.

Teachers should not think “They (students) should understand that.”

On the other hand, students think our purpose (teachers’) is to instill them with knowledge, but we need students’ effort to do that. However many students believe they can automatically absorb the information if they simply sit in the classroom.

They believe that because they’re sitting there, they’re learning.

But for teachers, they are not learning, they are just sitting here.

Teachers believe students should know how to learn & how to study by themselves.

But as students believe that the key component in learning is simply sitting in class, the minute they leave the classroom learning is finished.

They believe they have learned. And they are rather shocked when the following week they discover they have not really learned.

To make matters worse, parents blame the teachers…that doesn’t mean some aren’t to blame but first and foremost we need to look to see if the students are really studying, most think they are…but in reality they’re not.

Teachers must say “please review at home” & it must be said it over & over again.

Saying “Please review” once is not enough.

Be specific: “Tonight, tomorrow please review these words.” Each lesson students need to be told again…if not, most will simply go back to the path of least resistance, which for most students is doing nothing.

For students, when they close their notebook, learning is done for the week.

They are confused between the acquisition of information and the importance of using it.

It is the constant application of newly acquired information that allows us to truly learn it.

Hearing my client talk I realized how wrong I’d been.

For years I’d assumed people knew.

People don’t. They need to be taught. Step by step. Piece by piece.

Three short months ago I took up Karate.

It wasn’t so much for me but rather my son. However I have learned from experience the best way to get kids to study is for the parents to do it. Kids want to be like their parents.

Luckily I had recently been asked to work with a Karate teacher who was opening a new Dojo near my office, so I felt it was a sign and decided to take the plunge.

It’s been hard going.

My knees ache. My back kills. And each week we do the same thing. Stretch, practice punches, Kata and Kumite.

Over and over and over again.

But it is precisely this tedious repetition that will allow me to internalize this knowledge and be able to protect myself should the need arise sometime in the future.

My son, starting at such a young age, has even greater potential starting at such a young age and his mind being so malleable.

So what does this all have to do with success in business?

One of the biggest mistakes any manager makes is believing his subordinates understand what they want and how they want it done.

Too many companies believe employees know what they should do.

I’ve found this to be, for the most part, completely wrong.

Most employees are at a loss when it comes to doing things the right way, or to be more precise, the way their boss wants it done. They may have been taught how to do it the right way, but very few people are given enough time to master the skills they need…and as a result, wing it a lot of the time.

While there are those talented people who can pick things up quickly and effortlessly, most of us mere mortals require constant repetition and supervision until the skill becomes second nature.

And unfortunately, it’s a sad fact that some employees could care less about mastery.

All they want to do is get their paycheck and head home. Doing the bare minimum in the process.

Sadly, whether it’s at school or at the office there are doers and don’ters.

The writer writes, a a teacher teaches.

That’s where we separate the doers from the don’ters – most people say they will do something, but they never actually do it.

They do believe what they are saying when they say it, but they don’t have any idea of how tough it really will be; the blood & sweat, the pain, the time investment.

And simply choose not to bother.

It’s amazing really how many people will hear great ideas, get excited and then proceed to do absolutely nothing about it.

In the end, whether you’re a teacher, a manager or a CEO you must understand that you’re dealing with individuals.

There isn’t a one-size fits all…and as I learnt from my client we must constantly remind people how to do things, rather than expect them to know.

It’s the constant repetition along with feedback that allows people to grow.

It’s no miracle process.

I think Mr. Miyagi said it best, “Wax on, wax off.”

Adrian Shepherd

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