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Automatic English For The People

Saturday, April 01, 2006

How to Energize

"Just do your job, then let go"
--Tao Te Ching

Ive been accused of "having a lot of energy"... of being "passionate".... of having "great enthusiasm". Usually, these are accurate descriptions. But over the years Ive noticed that, like anyone else, my energy, passion, and enthusiasm fluctuate.

Ive looked at these patterns and discovered a fairly clear method for preventing burnout... one characterized by the above saying from the Tao Te Ching.

"Let go", thats the key. As much as I reflect, brainstorm, and experiment... in the end Im willing to let go of the results. If a class bombs, it bombs. If its great, its great. If Im fired, Im fired. Making lots of money... thats fine too. I try not to get caught up in the results too much.. focusing instead on enjoying the process.

A key part of doing this is to let go of teaching altogether-- to cultivate a wildly interesting life outside of teaching. If teaching is the most important thing in your life... you are almost sure to burn out.

And so, sometimes, the best advice is to work less. Be lazier. Rather than fret more, plan more, and work harder-- focus instead on the rest of your life. Is your life "wildly interesting"? Do you have deep meaningful friendships? Passionate relationships?

Are you constantly challenged, stimulated, and engaged? Do you have creative outlets away from school? Compelling sources for inspiration?

If not, teaching is the least of your problems...

Great teachers are great people. Its about more than the subject, Its about who you are as a human being. Students respond to interesting, creative, compelling human beings. You cant fake that.





San Francisco, CA

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