Words to inspire the belief that we have all we need to be the change we wish to see.

Month: June 2016 (Page 2 of 2)

Do what you love and love what you do

My brother, Seamus Kelleher, is a high school drama teacher.  He went to university to study theatre and then went to teacher’s college.  He writes original plays each year for his students and showcases their amazing talents.  Drama and great teachers change lives.

A number of years ago, a father came to my brother’s parent-teacher interview night with his 15-year-old son.  He told my brother that although his son was currently taking drama, he thought it was a waste of time. The son wanted to continue taking it the following year but the father disagreed.  The father asked my brother to convince him that drama was valuable.

My brother asked what the father did for a living.  He said he sold cars.  My brother asked if his job included being a good presenter, working as part of a team, using conflict-resolution, being confident, and being able to share a heartfelt story.  The man said yes. My brother shared how those skills are taught in drama classes.  At the end of the interview the father said he would allow his son to take drama the following year.

The son ended up taking drama for two more years until he graduated high school.  He was involved in a drama festival where his play went to the regional finals and he was voted valedictorian by his peers.  Then he went off to university to study business, which had always been the plan.

In fourth year university, he contacted my brother and told him that he was currently learning what my brother had taught him in Grade 10 about working with people and giving presentations.

He graduated and took a job in business.  But after a few months, he decided that he didn’t want to change opinions, he wanted to change lives.  So he went back to school to become a teacher.  And he is currently teaching accounting at an elite private school.

I told this story to a group of women recently and one of them said, “That sounds like the background of my son’s favourite teacher.”  And it was.  The boy who liked drama and was inspired to change careers to become a teacher, was now helping change the lives of his own students.

What a full-circle moment that shares the power of a good teacher and the bliss of following your heart.

Who in your life could use some support or direction?  Or what advice do you give to others, but maybe don’t consider for yourself?

As Steve Jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

If you do what you love, you will love what you do.

Perfectly imperfect

I have a flashbulb memory of being an 8-year-old girl in Grade 3.  The teacher gave us an assignment and immediately everyone’s heads went down and pencils started scratching furiously across paper. While I sat frozen.  I wasn’t totally sure of the task, I didn’t want to ask, and I was scared of doing it wrong. Of not being perfect.

After a few minutes I did muster the courage to clarify.  That was the beginning of my understanding that starting to write is always better than a blank page.  That there are many answers to the same question.  And that creativity will always get you to the place you want to go.

I saw a quote the other day that stopped me in my tracks.  Ziad K. Abdelnour said, “There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others.  Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.”

I couldn’t agree more.  There is endless beauty in being the person that you are.  There is so much connection in realizing that we are all imperfect and that mistakes and failures create learning and growth.  And the only reason we’re here is to grow and evolve.

However, it is a challenge to let your true self shine through.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

But you can do it.  Don’t judge yourself or others.  Don’t be afraid to let the world see the real you. You are perfectly imperfect and you inspire others just the way you are.

Getting standardized

This week my 8-year-old daughter is doing our provincially-mandated standardized testing at school. Her 10-year-old brother advised her, “Do your best, if you have no idea, always guess, and remember, it’s not about you.  It’s a test for your teacher, your school and it’s also a big way that realtors get people to pick houses.”

It got me thinking about something I read in Ken Robinson’s and Lou Aronica’s book Creative Schools. Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills and special adviser on education policy to the secretary-general at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said in the book, “The world economy no longer pays you for what you know; Google knows everything.  The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know.  If you want to learn if someone can think scientifically or translate a real-world problem into a mathematical context, those things are harder to assess, but they’re also more important in today’s world.  We see a rapid decline in the demand for routine cognitive skills in our world and the kinds of things that are easy to test and easy to teach are also the kinds of things that are easy to digitize, automate, and outsource.”

So whether it’s helping our children think about what they want to do with their lives, or whether it’s re-thinking what we’re doing with our own, there is something so powerful in realizing that it’s not necessarily what you know but what you do with what you know. How you get creative and connect the dots.  Your unique angle on a problem and its solution.

As William Butler Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

May we help light a fire in our children and in ourselves as we focus not so much on being standard, but on being extraordinary.

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