Growing up, I knew that I had an affinity for teaching. The stark outlook teachers presented for a teaching career quickly scared me away, though. I was interested in sharing my knowledge, but not in being underpaid and overworked.
I could recognize the reality of their strife, though. Teachers truly had it hard, especially in the area that I grew up in. Being so close to the more derelict region of Chicago, even children’s school were ripe with disorder and misconduct. The children were seemingly just unwilling to learn and by some standards “unteachable”. And this was in the freaking suburbs, I’ve heard the horror stories of public schools in the city.
In an amazingly eye-opening episode of The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE), I took note of one very compelling quote.
“Your ability to improve their lives once you understand that thinking and feeling are always linked — goes massively up”
Now, of course, I don’t expect a single one of you to sit through this entire podcast (though it would be a great idea). If you have the time, I’d like to share with you a story from my days running my last company.
How NOT to teach
I once had a friend. The guy wasn’t always the brightest, but under the right circumstances, he could work. Quite hard, at that. I eventually ended up employing him. I figured that with enough exposure to my knowledge and work ethic he would grow into the type of person who could at least meet the low end of my standards as an employer (granted, my standards are extremely high). At the very least, I would have a chance to attempt directly teaching someone.
Before firing him for misconduct, I ended up wasting hundreds of hours and tons of money that I didn’t have. All in an attempt to develop someone who didn’t resonate with my passion.
I wish I could blame him, I really do. In fact, I blamed him thoroughly for a while. I told stories, swore, got upset and I damn sure got angry. But the truth is if I could have just been a better leader he may have been more receptive of the lessons I was offering.
It is the obligation of a leader to not only hustle harder than any of his employees but also to personalize their approach when teaching them the important aspects of the company. Unfortunately, rather than taking an approach that accounted for his thoughts and feelings, I focused solely on transforming his thoughts to match my own.
Have you ever tried fitting a key into the wrong lock?
Sure, sometimes it might actually fit in there. But those pins won’t move an inch.
It’s exactly the same concept.
Rather than muting his feelings when he would bitch about the content of his work, I should have listened and considered adjusting the assignment.
Instead of allowing him to slack when work wasn’t available, I should have found something productive for him to do.
Rather than let problems go, I should have taken the time to understand the root cause of them.
There were many similar situations that I’ve now acknowledged and learned from. I am disappointed he made the mistake that he did. It’s a shame I had to fire him. Still, I can only expect that had I been more accommodating of his personal rights he would have had a higher level of respect and loyalty to my brand.
I learned my lesson (by teaching it)
Though, you live and you learn. Experiencing the struggle of losing your go-to guy during a critical stage of business development was quite the crash-course. I learned some invaluable lessons and it definitely hardened my entrepreneurial drive. I can more clearly see the value in viewing people as a whole, especially when your goal is to teach.
The best way to learn is to teach. Therefore, I can assume that learning how to properly teach will definitely enhance your ability to learn.
Even if your lesson doesn’t stick with the student, always reflect on the lessons they managed to leave with you upon graduation.
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