Recently I wrote a post entitled Don’t Believe. That is, don’t believe when someone discourages you from pursuing your dream. The Skinny Professor wrote a comment that I think is also true. “Imagine if someone came to you to tell you that you saw something in them, that they didn’t see in themselves.”
Two years ago I attended a community event called “Re-imagining Leadership” featuring Dr. Margaret Wheatley. I met an interesting woman there who had retired early from teaching and was trying to figure out what the next phase of her life would look like. To this day, I can’t remember her name, or what we talked about.
About a year later, I ran into this woman at another community event. (It’s a good thing I remember faces, because I still couldn’t remember her name). She told me that she was undertaking a master’s degree in education at the local faculty of education. She told me that our conversation was what encouraged her to go back to school after thirty years.
Because we don’t often see the results of our work, it can sometimes be demoralizing to teach. Often the impact of our words or behaviour doesn’t happen until years after a student has graduated. We never know when we can encourage someone to think more positively about themselves or their ability. Often we won’t ever find out that we’ve had an impact on someone’s choices. But this is why I teach. Because in some small way I provide the support, encouragement and guidance to others to change their lives. That’s not teaching. That’s leadership.