Ashtanga always gives me different perspectives which is why I write about it frequently. Recently I had a really great experience that I wanted to share. The teachers for my class have been rather inconsistent for the last month or so. A couple weeks ago we had a new teacher. I went through all the initial and mostly background feelings you have when there’s a new person trying to teach you. I went through the emotional cocktail of being unsure – how’s this going to go? To a bit skeptical – do I get a good vibe from her? From there to acceptance – She’s my teacher and she’s probably teaching for a reason. From there, I felt excitement – what can I learn from her? It was really interesting to me to be mindful of the spectrum of feelings.I made the connection that most of the people that I meet, train, or mentor through DMC Atlanta probably have similar feelings about me.
My teacher talked to us to gauge where we were all at in our practice, and it was the group that I regularly practice with so we were all on the same page. She then told us what we would be doing and got to know us for a bit before class actually started. Someone asked her how long she’d been teaching. The way the question was posed could have possibly been taken as an indirect question on her ability, or genuine interest, at times it can be hard to tell. I eagerly listened for her reaction, as well as to her interpretation on this seemingly innocent question. Her answer was, I personally think, a prefect mix of humbleness, showcasing her ability as well as her tact. It was also insight into her confidence and her character, my excitement to learn from her increased exponentially. She smiled (genuinely) and looked up as if searching a map and a timeline in her brain. Still talking through a genuine smile she said something along the lines of, “It’s funny you asked that, as I attempted to give you a straightforward answer I realized I hadn’t thought of that in a long time. I think it’s been about a decade, something like that.” She laughed a bit, “Yeah, it’s cool how time disappears when you love what do.” Then she began leading our practice and I found myself keeping the intention I now make to myself every day because of this class, “Everything I do today, I will do to the best my ability.” It was one of the best classes I’ve been to.
The main thing I took away from her class though was the power of teaching and correcting others in a positive way over the more common directive and possibly negative approach. I wondered if this came as a result of her obviously loving what she does. I know from my experience that when you love what you do, you tend to be happier and to inadvertently share that with the people around you. In teaching, one way of feedback or correction makes others want to work with you and for you and one typically makes someone feel incompetent and increases a lack of confidence. In my opinion, Confidence is the major player in people preforming well in anything they do. In situations where people are learning new things, Confidence can be nurtured and enhanced, or it can be put on the back burner to be gained at a later time. The latter is what I think is frequently played out in most training situations. It’s not intended but it is the outcome. It’s always harder to regain Confidence than to solidly create it in the beginning.
Just to make it clear I’m not talking about a positive environment where no one is ever mistaken and everyone has a personal unicorn. I’m talking about an environment intentionally created to teach and to be receptive to learning. The environment I am talking about is one where the teacher looks and finds what the student is doing well and lets them know they see it. Oftentimes the student will only be focusing on what they’re doing poorly or what confuses them. I’m talking about an environment in anything, yoga, business, school, etc. where people know that they cannot improve without making mistakes along the way. It is also an environment where people feel safe to explore whatever new area they’re learning and to push themselves to new boundaries. In the end, I’m talking about an environment that enhances others and allows them to see both sides of the positive / negative spectrum. Typically, they have the negative portion completely covered. They know what they’re not doing well.
I tell the people I mentor and work with here at DMC Atlanta that you can’t motivate people, they have to motivate themselves. This class was such a lovely reminder that while the responsibility of motivation is still theirs to own – we as leaders can help them find that motivation in such a genuine way by creating the environment that helps them thrive. Nothing builds motivation more in my opinion than the feeling that you CAN do something you didn’t think you could. Think of a time you surprised yourself with what you could do. Now think of being a part of creating that feeling in the people you come in contact with. That is a thought that makes me smile. Have a lovely day.