Saturday, November 03, 2012

Starting Out 6. Wonderful Mistakes

What’s great about me is also my greatest obstacle.  

What’s great about you that becomes your greatest obstacle?

What’s great about me is that I am creative. I bubble forth ideas like foam in kids bathtub. Most go pop and disappear, but a few stay iridescent and fly away. I am so busy with my imagination that I often don’t notice you. I don’t listen so well. I hate being a tourist - who wants to walk around looking at all that stuff when there’s so much entertainment available within me 7/24?  I love being alone with my self - there’s always something interesting to discuss.

Which is why I am a terrible listener. I have had to train my self to listen, to gather information, to act from a knowledge of reality. For years my teaching was like the application of templates - this week/month/year’s big idea - applied to my students no matter what the lesson need was in front of me. I was like a cookie cutter teacher - every lesson just variations on a past theme.

Until I met Marj. Marj demonstrated activity based lessons. When you give an activity lesson - there is no form. Forget the table, forget the chair - you have no idea what you will do, because you have no idea what the pupil will ask for. And pupils well versed in the activity model will often ask you to reflect back to them information on activities you have never seen before. In this situation, the only way to devise a teaching plan is to suspend your idea and really listen, watch and collect information about what is happening in front of you. Only when you have the information are you able to let that analytically, creative mind start generating your teaching plan.

Marketing is just the same. Before anything else, you need to collect information. No-one does research, least of all me. I keep having to learn this lesson. Just recently I came up with a brilliant idea. (The alarm bells should have been ringing, but I was deaf.) I was going to create this special course because I just knew all these people would want it. Did I ask? Did I check with them? Did I even confer with anyone about my great, new idea? Nope. The result? One person joined my wonderful course, then cancelled yesterday.

This failure is a wonderful thing. I have learnt, yet again, that unless I research my great idea, talk with the people I want to attract, find out as much as I can, any plan I hatch will be incomplete. So my lesson, both in teaching and marketing, has been this:

Collect information first. Analyze it. Experiment to generate even more information for even more analysis, and through this process develop a unified plan. A plan that when acted upon produces a result close to the one you anticipated. It sounds simple, but somewhere you, just like me, have a behaviour that jeopardizes it.

I found mine - have your found yours?

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