Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

Why Being on Time Matters

September 20, 2019
I once lost a job I never had by being late to an audition. It was for a national touring musical production and I was more angry than anything else. I was so pissed off it affected my day. I was angry at the producer and director, but I was also angry with myself. I was young, and not keenly aware of how important timelines were. It became a profound learning piece I often reflected on as I built my acting and stunt career.
A few years later, after I’d been spending some time in the film and TV industry as an extra and a stand-in, I once heard someone in the crew say “early is on time, and on time is late.” he made the comment since those of us cast as Stand-ins were expected to be on set when crew was, even if the Director, Producers, and Actors were still in their beds, or waiting for transpo (on most Film and TV productions, when actors are flown in, and for those principals in production, they have a shuttle, or limo pick them up and take them to and from set. Every day) the crew, and my fellow Stand-ins and I would all drive to Base camp, get shuttled in to set, have breakfast, and wait (because hurry up and wait is another thing I learned on a movie set, but more about that another time).
Early is on Time; On Time is Late. simple, beautiful, and to the point.
I’ve heard that expression many times since, and even used it myself. Remarkably, I have heard it in places other than the film and TV industry. And you know what? It makes sense.
Maybe the exception can be made for a party.
But for everything else, punctuality is still valued even if improper punctuation use is not. If you book an appointment with a client and you are running late, you notify that client as soon as possible and offer them the option of rescheduling if it works for them. Usually they will say ‘no’ and appreciate the fact you called. If you are running late and you say you are 10 minutes away and it actually takes you 45 minutes? Color Me impressed if you even still have a client waiting for you.
If you think I’m being too hard-lined about this, consider the following example.
You go to a restaurant and get sat at your table, and you place your order.
You’re told the order is going to be out shortly. And then 10 minutes becomes 15 minutes and 15 minutes becomes 20 minutes and by the time you get your order you have moved beyond hungry because you’re frustrated and irritated. The delay of: a doctor’s appointment; a meeting with a client; a contractor’s scheduled work time; a flight departure; a train; buying a car; a hotel check in…
They all have a profound impact on our day, to say the least.
I find myself somewhere beyond disappointed in such cases, because the sanctity of the contract was broken. Because the level of disrespect is palpable. It transcends inconvenience. It becomes something more. It creates a domino effect. What you have set in motion by being late typically has to run its course, and you are helpless to stop it. Exceptions are made, and should be, but as a rule, this standard is inviolable.
Being early shows that you respect and value other people’s time. Whether that is you getting ready to go out on a date night with your partner, or take your kids to the playground, or the water park, or whether it’s putting a presentation in front of a board of directors, or a vacation tour, do it for everybody else, and in doing so, you do it for yourself. Be early. Even if it is a few minutes. Because that minute is more appreciated and less noticed than if you are five minutes late.
Being early is subtly nuanced, and that nuance carries long after the clock stops ticking.
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one step at a time

September 12, 2019

Being positive. It’s an enlightened process to be certain. I think living itself is a source of positive energy because of the effort at a molecular level to make things happen. That includes the simple act of opening one’s eyes, or placing one foot in front of the other. Think about that. Walking is a constant state of being out of balance, of falling. We are in a state of constant falling when we walk, but we course-correct with microseconds to spare.

But life is also consumptive and it’s our job to make sure we know how to sidestep the quicksand and swim with the rip current because at various times in our lives we are going to get caught by both. Think in terms of the Chinese finger puzzle. Struggle and you’ll be trapped; loosen and relax your energy, and extraction happens without effort.

I’ve always believed that people who are not ready for the worst can’t be prepared for the best. But I’ve also discovered there are limits. Still, being privy to the concept and activation of patience allows for positivity. That applies to people, goals, and situations.
One step at a time. That’s how my mountains are summited. That’s how things are accomplished. That is how you can accomplish whatever it is you set you sights on. Whether ordinary or mythic, it can be yours. Just take it one step at a time.

One step at a time.

Why Teachers Don’t Quit

May 24, 2019

Think about what quitting means to you. Then think about the adults that didn’t quit on you. Likely those adults were teachers or mentors of fine reputation.
Being a teacher means being earnest, being committed, and being dedicated. It means being able to get up every single day and willingly craft the tools for success every single time you have a conversation with a student.
In rationalizing and justifying words and actions, a teacher must study and assess, sometimes in nanoseconds.
I’ve had the opportunity in a variety of venues – from classrooms to stages – to deliver instructional educational content geared towards adults. My audiences have dramatically ranged in size.  This focus on application through experiential learning and interactive learning has varied results, largely depending on the receptiveness of your students. It’s an interesting thing teaching and facilitating to different groups. When your delivery process is the same but the reactive response is different, your audience and their participatory level runs the range from prodding to plodding to nodding to, when the pieces all come together, thoroughly actively engaged. Regardless, we are always professional and always committed, right?
Having delivered content in a variety of venues, on a variety of topics, I’m pleased with the fact I’ve become fairly adept at being able to read my audience and responsibly deliver and provide the necessary experience for them, allowing them to walk away being able to both ask and answer questions while building new solutions.

That’s what a good teacher and facilitator does. It’s a fascinating thing to watch a teacher at work. This is not a commentary on me. I’m good, but not worth marveling at. No, this is about teachers like my art teacher in eighth grade, Mrs. Smith. Or my history professor from Broward Community College, Ralph Clarke. And I cannot ever forget my literary professor and now friend, Dr. Peter Roundy. At Disney University it was Anthony Giffen, A teacher, trainer, and facilitator who made ‘yes and’ a way of life. What they all shared was the belief that I, as a student and a person, was worth the effort. They helped me discover a better version of myself.
I’ve had the good fortune of attending many career day events at schools, usually to talk about life on a film set. I marvel at the connectivity and bond and sense of guiding momentum dedicated teachers instill in their students. They literally have swung for the fence on behalf of students where other teachers gave up and called it a strike out.

My wife is one of these rarified teachers, a challenging force of nature in an environment where many are simply encouraged to simply just pass a test.  Once I had the great fortune and honor of being her date to a wedding. This wasn’t just any wedding. This was a celebration of nuptials between two former student of hers, students she had not taught in many years. Yet they felt so strongly about her they kept in contact with her. She was the only educator invited from the entire school. Think about that.
I once heard that we can easily name five adult figures, usually teachers, who had a positive impact in our lives, rattling those names off, rapid fire, where we would struggle to name five politicians as quickly. That says a lot about what it means to be a teacher.

Take the opportunity to appreciate what it means to be a teacher. If you have children and you send them to school, think about the tremendous outpouring and sacrifice teachers make with the single, simple focus of creating and molding a better person. We trust our educators to make the right choices, choices guided by integrity, and driven by character. If you are lucky enough, your kid, or you, have a teacher who are selfless and generous, and care enough to make a difference.
If you are a college student, or if you are signed up for continued education and learning through your place of employment, approach it as an opportunity. Your teacher, professor, or facilitator has already invested in you before you even begin your first assignment. Approach it as a chance to expand the boundaries of what you’re capable of as you add new tools to your tool kit. (As an adult learner, If you cannot do any of that, do everyone else who is in that learning environment a favor by leaving, or simply not attending in the first place). Everyone makes sacrifices by being there.

Be grateful for the teachers that care enough for your children to actually want to make a difference, hopefully as you were grateful and fortunate enough for the teachers that cared enough to make a difference in you. If you’re still in school and looking forward to your summer break, be sure to thank your teacher and professor. Maybe you can get them a gift card or take them out to lunch.  Trust me, they appreciate these gestures. Know that while you’re off enjoying your summer, they may very well be busy teaching, or beginning the very early prep work for the fall.  Being a teacher is in some ways the same as being a stay at home parent. It doesn’t typically pay very well, but it rewards in ways that are enduring for all involved. Remember your teachers who believed in you. Because they have likely helped you to discover the best version of yourself as well.

Why Being Authentic Matters

March 29, 2019

I’m currently on a ride and drive tour. I have learned a few interesting things during this tour. I continue to learn. I learned being authentic matters more than it ever has.

I learned courtesy, capacity, patience, and awareness. Above all else, I’ve grown to truly appreciate character and integrity.

With courtesy, I simply reinforced something that I’ve known, which is to be nice to everyone, even those who can’t be nice to anyone. And the reason why is because once in a while those people come around. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, you know you’ve left your mark.

Capacity. I learn to show up prepared to give 100% every single day. Sometimes that means creating a shield to protect yourself from the negativity. All you have to do is create a shield where your energy flows out but theirs does not flow in.

Patience. It’s a dangerous presumption that because you value your time and everyone else’s, that they will reciprocate. It’s a dangerous assumption to believe people will do what you ask them to in a teaching, training, or facilitation setting. Be patient and set limits, and for those who don’t want to come along, move the rest of the group forward and they will either catch up or be left behind. It is the 10-80-10 rule. Don’t waste your time on that 10%. There’s never a positive return. Not ever.

Awareness. Be aware that some people are going to come in and troll whatever experience it is you’re creating. They will bait you, either with talk of religion or politics, or simply by being demeaning to you and everyone around them. They will be course, they will be knuckle draggers, and they will know little of civility.
Be aware how you enter,  start, end and leave. Leave The space on a high point. What the individuals do with that is their business. But you don’t want to give them a reason to trash you. Those who will are likely to do so without a reason. Those who want are likely to extol the virtues of your ability, your skill, and your engagement. Leave them grateful for the experience.

Character and Integrity. Everyone has an idea of the latter. A colleague on a set once deliveried the perfect definition of Character. She said, “character is defined as making the right decision when the choice isn’t obvious.”

So, the next time you have a class, session, seminar, or event, be authentic, be energetic, and serve the people you are there to teach and train. The good ones will get it. They’ll feel your authenticity, and they will carry your message forward.

That is grace and elegance, and what truly matters.