“But This Is Me, You Know”
Have you heard of Sir Ken Robinson?
No? Then take seventeen minutes and watch this video right now. Regardless of whether you are a teacher, a parent, or a student, this talk that Robinson gave last February is funny, poignant, and relevant. Yes, he is speaking mainly about education, but he touches on some universal truths as well. My favorite highlights from his speech had a lot to say about talents and passion. For example:
On our talents and our “authentic selves”:
I meet all kinds of people who don’t enjoy what they do. They simply go through their lives getting on with it. They get no great pleasure from what they do. They endure it, rather than enjoy it, and wait for the weekend. But I also meet people who love what they do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. If you said to them, “Don’t do this anymore,” they’d wonder what you were talking about. Because it isn’t what they do, it’s who they are. They say, “But this is me, you know. It would be foolish for me to abandon this, because it speaks to my most authentic self.” And it’s not true of enough people.
On having passion for what we do:
But it’s not only about that. It’s about passion. Often, people are good at things they don’t really care for. It’s about passion, and what excites our spirit and our energy. And if you’re doing the thing that you love to do, that you’re good at, time takes a different course entirely…You know this, if you’re doing something you love, an hour feels like five minutes. If you’re doing something that doesn’t resonate with your spirit, five minutes feels like an hour.
I, for one, can fully understand what Robinson’s point is. In high school, I very seriously contemplated going to journalism school. I worked for three years on my school paper with one year served as senior editor. Journalism seemed to be “my thing.” Then, one day, I realized that I was good at being a journalist, but I didn’t really love it. I wasn’t thrilled with the interview process, with page layout, or even copy editing. I certainly liked writing, but this specific style didn’t thrill me. I was only seventeen, and yet I realized with great clarity that just because I was good at something didn’t automatically mean I had to love it.
And so I became a teacher, a job that I still say is one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet. Don’t get me wrong. Not every day is a good day; in fact, many days are not good days at all. Teaching is time-consuming, energy-draining, mentally and emotionally-taxing work. And yet, those good days, when my students are as excited and passionate about what we’re doing as I am, make up for everything else. It’s on those good days in my classroom that I feel like my most authentic self, as Robinson puts it. Not only am I a good, effective teacher on those days, but I love what I’m doing in the moment—and those moments, the truly engaging ones, feel like no time at all as they are happening.
What about you? Do you feel like your work taps into your “most authentic self,” or do you feel like that’s all a bunch of nonsense?