Clayton Christensen is at the top of his game. A world-renowned Harvard Business School professor, he is adored by his students, cherished by his readers and sought out by companies the world over for management advice. This wasn’t always the case.
Many years ago, he saw his student satisfaction declining fast. He met with several of his students to get one-on-one feedback and asked fellow teachers to observe his classrooms. There were various suggestions on how he could improve as a teacher but no common themes. The solution was so hard to find because people liked his courses, just not his teaching style. Then one day on a flight, he met an elderly member of the Lakota Indian tribe.
The man asked him, “Is teaching fun?”
Christensen was struck by those words and remained silent. He had never been asked that question in such a piercing way.
Finally, he confessed that it once was, but not so much now. After a long conversation and quiet observation, the tribe elder said, “The problem with you is that you are not teaching with love.” That was it, plain and simple.
Christensen was surprised. That never came up in any of the analysis. What does love have to do with teaching? But it was true and it touched his heart. Before his next class, he paused, sat, reflected and prayed. Then, after gathering the energy, he walked into class with a sense of humility, warmth and affection for his students. He put everything he had into that lecture. The emotion flowed and he immediately recaptured their hearts.
Interestingly, he left the classroom revitalized with energy. The love he gave was returned to him.
In today’s busy world, we are chasing so many things that our love gets diluted. Our ability to connect deeply with our children is watered down by our attention elsewhere – our career, the news, emails and phone calls. Think of a meal you recently made for your family. How much care did you take in shopping for the juiciest tomatoes or sautéing freshly cut garlic? How about a book you just read with your child. Did you relish the book – discussing the characters and even laughing out loud with your kids – or did you rush to finish it? Do you marvel at your child’s brilliant daily observations or wondrous questions?
Take a critical look at your life right now. Is it fun? Examine your priorities and daily choices. Are you effective or just busy with stuff? Ask your children directly or indirectly for feedback. Observe others. Sit. Reflect. Pray. Be very exclusive with your time, ready to decline unnecessary activities and social events. Then channel your energy to where it matters most.
Take the advice of the Lakota tribe elder and put more love, warmth and compassion into your relationship with your children. Capture their hearts and make it fun! And as always, write to us about your experiences…