Favorite “Teachers” in the Classroom of LIFE

By Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz

You’ve got 30 seconds. Name your favorite teacher. Ready? Go!

No matter how old you are, where you live or what you do, you’ve probably been part of at least one conversation when people start reminiscing about their school days. With smiles, laughter and even a few grimaces, stories (and names!) of favorite (and worst!) teachers  are interspersed with comments such as, “Oh, I can top that! Wait until you hear what MY teacher did!” “He was the only positive person in my life.” “She kept me from making some very bad choices.”
May is filled with graduation ceremonies – from kindergarten to graduate school and every level in between.  Time to celebrate, for sure. Although the focus is on the graduates, the real heroes of the day are the teachers who influenced their students in a positive way.

What were the qualities and abilities that made your “favorites” stand out from the crowd? Were they good listeners who were interested in your opinions? Did they have a sense of humor? Could they be trusted to keep their word? Did they want you to succeed and help you reach your goals? Were they tough, yet fair? Did they make you feel valued? Did they help you grow and develop, not only as a student but also as a person with potential and a belief in yourself and your future? Were they positive role models?

Effective teachers have these strengths … the same strengths that help define effective leaders. Both work hard to create an environment to help others succeed. As a leader, what are you doing to help your people get better at what they do? Can others tell that you value people and their ideas by your words and actions? Are you committed to creating a positive environment? Memorable teachers help their students succeed. Memorable leaders do the same for their employees, but with one added benefit. When your employees are more successful, so are you. And so is your bottom line

Now maybe you’re thinking this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t see yourself as a leader. Not true! Leadership is not defined by a title or a corner office. Leadership is reflected in the choices you make about how you live your life. The ways you communicate, act, respond, handle change, deal with stress, negotiate, cope with difficult people and get along with others all reflect your character, your values and your beliefs.

While you may not see yourself as an “official” leader and influencer, others certainly do. No matter what “title” you hold – parent, spouse, friend, partner, colleague, coworker, customer or vendor, mentor or student, leader or follower, management or support staff… each has the power to influence others in a positive (or negative) way.

Leadership is not always about being in charge. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels empowered and engaged. Memorable leaders realize that the opportunity to influence others exists in every situation, relationship, job and activity. While they may never stand at the front of a classroom, they realize that LIFE is an everyday teaching and learning experience. So they constantly strive to STAND OUT as better leaders, better influencers, and better people.

How did your favorite teachers influence YOUR life? What did you learn from them? Write and let me know! I always enjoy hearing from you!

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