Friday, April 05, 2013

Day 11 – WorkStep Five: Questions My Mentor Asked Me…

Why have a mentor?

As a mirror, as a way to know your Self.

Here are some questions that my mentor asked me:

What rules unconsciously guide my idea of what kind of teacher I can be? As I enquired into that question (try it out your Self) I found myself teeming with rules and concepts that potentially limited my ability to teach. For example…

“I should not dictate to my students.”

I once believed this was a way for me to honour them. But wait a minute – how does that honour them? Isn’t it actually a way of dishonoring them? By compromising my own stand, in the belief that if I express what I truly believe you must believe too, I am disrespecting your right to do what you want.

But what does what I say to my student have to do with what my student decides to do? Nothing, unless I believe I have some magical power to “make you do” what I want you to do. No-one has that power. Only one person can move your legs, swing your tongue and think your thoughts, and that would be you.

Isn’t respect also that I assume you capable of deciding for your Self? When I hold back being honest – out of this idea “I should not dictate to you” - then it appears I must be believing you are incapable of making your own decision, in the face of my opinion. How is believing you are unable to make your own decision respectful of you?

As I bend my Self out of shape believing I am respecting you, the truth my body is telling me is that I am putting my Self out of co-ordination. I am in stress. The truth is, in that moment I am disrespecting both of us – you, but mostly me. Wow – that’s a 180 degree spin: “I should dictate to my students.” Yes, and believe my students capable of deciding on their own. They will anyway, despite what I believe.

It all comes down to this: how good are you at saying “No”? Can you do it with clarity, with love, with respect and finality? Can you peacefully say “No” when a person is desperate to hear  “Yes”? That is how you respect you, and it is how you respect them.

Here’s another question my mentor suggested: Are you the same person when you teach? When I identify my Self as a “teacher” how much baggage does that word drag into my being? This identity of “Teacher” is a powerful proscription for all kinds of behaviours I might otherwise not live in.

I see this reflected in my students: in class, as soon as they think they must “teach” this wave of identity is produced in their mien. They transform before my eyes into an identity of “teacher”. Where did you go, I ask them, who is standing there now?

These are the ways my mentor mirrors me.

How does your mentor mirror you?

TOMORROW: WorkStep Five – Who Is Going To Help You Do This? Who Is In Your Team?

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