Thursday, October 13, 2016

Listen. Try.

I was considering making this speech to students at the dojo, but I probably won't as it's a bit long.  Still, it makes for a good post!

As a teacher, I only ask for two things:

- Please listen.
- Please try.

That's it!  If a student can do both of those things for me, I will teach them to the best of my abilities.  But it's not always easy for them.  I'll even admit that when I'm a student, it's not always easy for me to do it myself!

To truly listen?  That means not waiting your turn to speak, that means not thinking about the next thing on the list, that means not making a joke with your friend, that means not looking at how other people are taking in the information.  That means not just hearing the words in your ears but also letting them process in your head.  If you already assume you know the information - even if you really do "know" it - then you're not listening, you're "aurally skimming".  Listening really takes an open mind.

To truly try?  That means sometimes not doing what you're used to doing, or not doing what is comfortable for you.  It also means doing what you've been actually asked to do, rather than what you think you heard or wanted to hear.  Trying means challenging yourself and not waiting for someone else to push you.  Trying doesn't always mean you have to sweat, but it means not being afraid to.  Speaking of fear, you can't try if you're afraid of failing.

The next class you have, try listening more intently and trying more earnestly.  If it's really hard, what does that tell you about how you've been practicing?  If you can only do it for a little while then revert to form, can you see how that might parallel your growth?  And you have to be honest with yourself, you can't hear one instruction, think you're doing a good job, then assume you're doing the same with the rest of the instructions.  It takes some intentional effort!

Sometimes, the simplest instructions are the hardest ones to follow, but yield some amazing results.

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