Monday, March 28, 2005

Teaching and Being Taught

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches. - Karl Menninger.

Who inspires you and why? Who do you inspire and teach and why do you think others listen? To learn facts, one can read and memorise them. To remember and use them in context of your life, how a teacher presents those facts, where they have meaning and value to you is what lights the spark within you to do something with them. Everyone teaches in some way. I maintain my son is my best teacher. Does he have more knowledge than me? In some cases, yes. How does he teach me? By the way he lives life. We are all teachers. Whether educators, leaders, parents, children, mentors, coaches, we teach others in some way. It could be facts or ways of being. Teaching another is showing them what life is all about and helping them find their place in it. A great teacher helps the learners get past that which blocks them….to get past fears and inhibitions and fly. A teacher sows the seed of possibility in another’s mind in order for them to take that seed and grow something with it. The best kind of teachers places themselves into the shoes of the student….to listen for what they don’t already know or for new ways of being. Then the teacher becomes a partner with the learner rather than only leader and in those instances both evolve.

The teacher nourishes, feeds the sense of possibility until the students take over and nurtures ideas and skills and finds their niche in the world. Life-changing teachers zero in on the reality of what is and helps the students get past the false barriers.

Who are you teaching and how? Are you sharing the seeds of ideas and letting your students free to find their own way in the world? A teacher's purpose is not to create clones of themselves, but to help others develop so they can create their unique place in life.

Teaching should be full of ideas instead of crammed with facts. How will you lead others to find their own life purpose, not a copy of your own?

Donna Karlin

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Why I Blog

I’m frequently asked “Why do you take the time to blog?” “How often do you post a blog? What’s in it for you?” “You’re so busy, why do you bother?”

There are many different answers to this. Some are smart business practices for visibility, being picked up more often on Google in searches and to become known in my areas of expertise but that isn’t my primary reason for blogging. Recently I was interviewed by an online magazine on this exact topic; why do I blog, what are the benefits to my business etc etc. I know I didn’t stay on topic re: sales etc. however the author thought enough of my comments to add them in as well.

Recently I received an email from someone who had forwarded my blog to her company manager. That manager in turn forwarded the same post to the director who subsequently forwarded it to the division Vice President. Did I post the blog with hopes of becoming known by this VP? No. I posted it so there would be a possibility of coaching people indirectly….even those I’ve never worked with personally. The ripple effect goes way beyond what the author will ever know and sometimes I’m lucky enough to hear back from a reader who will share insights, ideas and personal experiences which will in turn help future clients as I will have heard and taken into consideration another perspective.

My blog lets people in….gives them a glimpse of who the blogger is, not only the work I do. I incorporate personal experience and history into my blogs so clients and readers can see who I am multi-dimensionally. It gives insight into the way I think, feel, live and work to the extent where I can be personal but still professional, hopefully never crossing the boundary to the inappropriate.

If I didn’t blog, I wouldn’t be fortunate to communicate and share part of my life with others who in turn share theirs with me as well. And now, in the very short time I’ve been blogging, those readers….the regular readers, come from 38 countries living different cultures, religious, ways of being. I am touched by them in some way every day and my life is enriched because of it.

Why do I blog? So I can connect with you in some way as you read this and thank you for sharing a brief moment in time with me. Through you I grow and learn and create a connection that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. You keep me on my toes, help me stretch, both in writing skills and creating concepts and programs that will, I hope, in turn help you grow as well.

For that and all you bring, many many thanks.

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome new subscribers from United Arab Emirates and Egypt increasing the country count to 38!

Friday, March 11, 2005

A New Day

Do not say "It is morning," and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name. - Rabindranath Tagore

Every day is a fresh start. We learn something new, perhaps meet someone new who will change our lives in some way, increase our knowledge or help us grow. As the day dawns we can bring all that newness to the table and build on it. When we greet the day with the problems of yesterday and the “what was” we create blockages to what’s possible and the “what may be-s” We do the same with people.

History seems to get in the way. Why is that? Why do we allow memories of a hurt come back to affect us profoundly all over again when that person is no longer in the equation? Is there comfort in reliving past hurts? It’s completely outside my understanding.

When we do the same in the workplace we’re not allowing trust in. We can’t rebuild it and create strong working relationships if our expectations of an individual are all bad. You get what you expect. Expect the best and speak to their best and that’s what you’ll get. Speak to weaknesses and negativity and you’ll get that as well.

There’s a story I love which illustrates fresh starts and leaving past problems where they belong….in the past. It’s called ‘The Trouble Tree’. You might have heard it but I think it’s worth a second visit…

“I hired a carpenter to help me restore an old farmhouse. He had just finished a rough first day on the job: a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, the electric saw quit and now his ancient pickup refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me to meet his family.

As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterwards he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again."

"Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick "em up, there ain't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."
- Author Unknown.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, the next day you could forget to pick up past troubles altogether and treat the new day as just that….a time to be open to all the possibilities that will come if you open your mind and heart to letting them in.

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome subscriber from Austria. Perspectives now welcomes regular readers from 36 countries!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Listening....REALLY Listening

Today I was approached by someone who asked me to help him with his training plan. He held a key position, not by virtue of rank but by how much his work affected that of others in the division. I was happy to look over the list of training programs and courses he was thinking of taking over the next 3 years. The first thing that hit me was, the training was all over the place. Each course sounded good by itself, however the first question that came to mind was “Putting them all together, how will this help him get where he wants to go?”

I asked him to explain his thought process….why he chose these courses in the first place and in this combination. Granted, the layout of the course listings wasn’t very clear and yes, all courses were grouped into categories but as one description flowed into another, and headings easily missed, it was easy to misunderstand the focus of the trainings.

Pruning down the list wasn’t difficult, especially since many of the courses were inappropriate for what he did or where he wanted to go in the future. After cutting back, there were 8 left; not a huge number of courses to be taken over a three year period. The hardest part for him was prioritizing. When he asked me which I thought was most important; which of all the courses would give him the best return on time and investment, it was simple for me to choose. For him, it was easy to be seduced by all the promises that were made with regards to the benefits of each course.

The most important skill to have or hone is listening. Real, open listening; effective listening, is not just downloading the information another has to say only if it is in congruence with your opinions and ways of thinking. It’s truly listening….hearing and processing what that person has verbalised. Once you have that skill down pat, everything is easier. You learn more, are open to other ways and means and perspectives. If he only took one training that would be the one I’d choose for him. Second to that is effective communication. If you can’t articulate what you want or need then no one will be able to understand it either and you’ll be wasting a heck of a lot of time and energy explaining yourself. Even then it’s a toss-up whether or not you’ll get the desired results.

One goes hand in hand with another.

So if you read a course description that spouts something about learning better communication skills and the description goes on about how you get along with others, learn dispute or conflict resolution etc, then that’s more in the realm of inter-personal relations, not communication The best way one can communicate in the workplace is to remove the personal factor. Speak to the facts, the truth of a situation and then be clear, articulate and concise. Ask for clarification and when you do ask a question, be quiet and open to hearing the answer.

That’ll be the biggest gift you could ever give yourself, and others.

Donna Karlin

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