Monday, June 13, 2016

Ante Up

Take a look at the list on the left.

You would think these are a given, but they aren't.
In our modern society, with access to so much information, perhaps too much information, time and again I see situations where people show up without the list on the left being ready.

There are always reasons that can be given for not doing/being any of these, just as there are ways of insuring that we always do them.  To me, these are the ante to earn the right to sit at the table of learning.

Reading through the list, you can even go as far as to say that they all reflect one single attribute - caring.

To learn, to really learn, we have to care.  It has to be important enough for us to want to do what is needed to insure success.  Very often, failing to bring these things is evidence, sometimes subconscious evidence, that we don't care enough about the result.  This is easily visible in kids' classes.  Many times the parents push their kids to do an after-school activity that the kids don't really want to do.  Thus, some or all of these 10 attributes are regularly missing - often in rotation.  The flip side of this list would include such negative behaviors as self-importance, arrogance, entitlement, privilege and the general feeling that we are owed something by someone else just for being who we are (hint: we aren't).  As the saying goes "you've got to earn it to learn it."

However, it is important to understand what is really going on here.  Teachers were not born with the knowledge or skills they have.  These have been earned with hard work over many years, coupled with a desire to share what they know.  It is not to be taken lightly.  In school, work, and free time mentors come in a variety of forms, all of which deserve the respect of the student for a good knowledge transfer to be possible.  Going further, bringing these attributes makes us worthy of being taught - that shows the most important type of respect, self respect.

I am incredibly proud to be a teacher.  My students bring these 10 key attributes to class all the time, and that pushes me to give 100% in every single lesson.  They work very hard, which makes me want to work even harder.  Together we have a rhythm and a balance together.  We motivate ourselves and each other.

Time spent in the dojo is designed to instill these attributes, especially self-respect, into each of us - teacher and student alike, with the goal that we face the world outside the dojo ready and worthy of being taught all the skills we need to succeed in our lives, according to our own definition.

If you get up every day and try your best to learn something new, if you do your best to show these 10 attributes when you engage others, I have good news.  You will make it.  Inch by inch if that's what it takes, you will always get there if you stay the course.

In the end, that's what really matters.

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