We must trust the messenger before we can believe the message.
What began today as the objective to create a unique learning opportunity for a group of graduating college design students became a completely different learning experience for the teacher. And by the teacher, I mean me.
In fifteen years of teaching I’ve coached design students with a wide range of personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and levels of conviction & commitment. To reach the level of professionalism expected for a graduating senior most only need a slight nudge, some need a firmer push, while a few, thank God it’s only a few, shove back – HARD!
I’ve vowed not to dwell on resistance. In Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art says “Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and dysfunction.” Tonight however, I was met face to face with resistance in the form of words like “I didn’t learn anything in your class.” “This project was a waste of time.” “You change your expectations and standards all the time.” “Maybe if you planned the class better at the beginning you wouldn’t have to make changes to the schedule.” And the one that sunk deep, DEEP in my chest “It was just an exercise so I didn’t care.”
Resistance…it was staring me RIGHT IN THE FACE! And I gave into it! I reacted. I shifted from the offensive to the defensive. I kept my temper in control but I would be fooling myself if I didn’t admit that my blood was boiling. I’m sure others in the room felt the temperature elevate. But like a teapot, a few long exhales released the steam, I kept my focus on the facts and tried to remember to “come from a place of love.”
Driving home after wards I kept telling myself to stop focusing on the event, to tune out the conversation, to LET IT GO! But like my daughter often says…“it was stuck in my head.” A few hours sleep did little to shift my thoughts, so I did something I’ve never done before. I drove to Starbucks, picked up an Iced Macciato (I don’t actually drink coffee) and sat in a chair for an hour with nothing but a pen and my journal. For the next hour I purged every shred of anger, morsel of disappointment, fragment of frustration I could. It helped…a little. I was guided to uncover the purpose and lesson hidden between the character attacks. You see in everything I do and say, for every personal, professional and educational relationship I am invested in, I’m in it because I care. I CARE! When resistance challenged me with a force that didn’t care, I was lost, speechless, dumbfounded. It simply did not compute.
With time, I know my perspective will change and I welcome the peace it will bring. I remain dedicated to the relationships in my circle who do care, and know that for every student who isn’t a good fit for my teaching style, there are a dozen more who will AND ARE embracing a happy and rewarding career.