I found myself in an interesting conversation a few months ago with a fellow trainer. They shared with me that while they love what they do, they have good and bad days just like anyone else—and that sometimes, on the not-so-good-days, showing up the way we want to or feel we should in the classroom can feel like a stretch. The humanity of the conversation intrigued me. The challenge is not something we often discuss, and yet it’s one we all face: how do we handle the complexity of our own lives as we step into the lives of our participants?
I think we can find inspiration in one of the essential principles from Crucial Conversations: examine your motives.
What were your motives the last time you stepped into your classroom? To share the skills? To “not mess up”? To have a fun learning environment? These are all great considerations that can help foster a good learning experience, but what if we also thought a little more deeply about our motives and added one of gratitude?
In Start With Heart, we talk about ways we can create motives of dialogue. The skills in this section help us:
- Assess the situation and interrupt feelings that might lead us to poor results.
- Reflect on our motives and explore what it is we truly want from an experience or relationship.
- Move forward in a way that aligns with our deepest values.
What if we did something similar the next time we stepped into our classrooms? With a slight twist, we can use a process to interrupt the stress of everyday life that might derail our presentations and better prepare us to step into the classroom with heart. Just like motives guide crucial conversations, motives influence instruction. We can take the principle we teach in Start With Heart and adapt it to ensure that we are cultivating motives of gratitude to set the right learning conditions for our classes. So, the next time you step into your classroom, ask yourself:
What am I thinking about right now? What am I feeling, experiencing, etc.?
If you’re like me, you’re thinking about getting your room set up and connecting with participants. Yet, in the back of your mind, you’re thinking about the fact that you didn’t quite get enough sleep and you’ve got an ever-increasing list of things to get done once you are home.
What do I want for my participants? What am I grateful for? How can I be present with this group?
Instead of staying stuck in the minutia of life (especially this time of year), I remember I am grateful to be able to what I do. I’m grateful that in a world where people often react viscerally to a disagreement, I get to teach and learn about how to interact effectively with others. And I am grateful for the opportunity to create a safe learning space to help others do the same.
How can I help learners get the most from this session?
Focus on the challenges your participants face. Each crucial conversation, accountability issue, influence challenge, or barrier to getting things done is nuanced. It’s important to pay attention to those nuances for each audience so you can speak to their challenges. You might lead a discussion at the end of your session about what skills participants are most grateful for, or find most useful.
Tapping your higher motives and letting them guide your instruction can help you create beautiful opportunities for dialogue and discovery.
And what better way than to consider what we’re grateful for? Whether you’re grateful for the opportunity to help others learn skills, grateful for your position, or even to get up and train that day, gratitude pays off. It pays for you and for your participants. As David Steindl-Rast said, “It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
We can “start with heart” when we enter our classrooms by fostering gratitude. With motives of gratitude, we create opportunities for learning, application, and even joy as we work to change lives in our organizations and across the world. Next time you step into the classroom, I wish you motives of gratitude.