“Your ability to excel at an activity depends on your ability to be excited by the activity. Excitement drives practice drives performance.” – Marcus Buckingham
This quote showed up on my facebook newsfeed a few days ago, and despite the fact that I haven’t had a chance to blog much, the quote is a good reflection of what’s been on my mind the the past month. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been teaching College Discovery classes for The Princeton Review this month. I’m almost done with my last week, and it’s definitely been an interesting experience!
If the class from my first session was essentially my dream class, my second session has been made me think quite a bit more. They are a good group, but they do keep me on my toes – both because they’re a bit more chatty in class and because they ask a lot of interesting questions. One of the things that’s come up several times is the idea of passion and success. We’ve discussed the definition of success and finding the right match for colleges, subject majors, and career choices. But a lot of these discussions still leave me with questions. Some students know exactly what they want to do, but others have no clue. I don’t have the tools to help them narrow their choices yet. But I like the Buckingham quote, because it equates success with excitement. That’s when a job becomes a vocation – when a certain love and excitement accompanies the work.
This particular group of students has been telling me since day one that they can tell I love teaching. They tell me that they can see that I truly enjoy my job. Many are international students, so they ask me to come teach in their schools in places like Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Kuwait. Inevitably, I hear the stories of teachers they’ve had that don’t like their jobs, and the negative effects that’s had on their personal education. And as I think about my career as a teacher, with all the moving and job-hunting, much of my success does come from the fact that teaching excites me, and that excitement makes me good.
I have been reading this month – I picked up a copy of The Truth About You by none other than Marcus Buckingham. I’m not going to give a detailed review, because quite frankly, I wasn’t blown away by it as a resource for young adults. Supposedly, the target audience of this book is a younger crowd than his other books, directed at older teens and college students. And it starts out ok, but as the book progresses, Buckingham reverts to his typical way of speaking to professional adults. I’m not sure if a younger audience would be able to relate to some of his examples, and so I don’t know if they’d get as much out of the book.
However, I think the idea is right. I think we need to help young people find what excites them as they begin to search out careers, instead of after they’ve been in the working world for some time. It’s just the delivery that didn’t work in this particular book. So I keep searching. I keep asking the questions and looking for the answers. And I keep doing what I find exciting – teaching teens to launch themselves into the world.