For most of my life, I’ve solved my problems and attacked my goals alone. Only recently have I learned that it is the act of helping others that makes some people feel good about themselves.
There is a commercial for some candy bites that asks, “Why did it take so long?” Then they show some odd reason why a person with an idea didn’t follow through. As I watch these commercials from an English teacher’s point of view, the theme seems to be from Greek tragedy. Some fatal flaw kept these characters from their full potential.
As I think about these commercials from the point of view of a teacherpreneur, I think about my own fatal flaws and wonder if this dream of opening my own teacher-led school will fall victim to my weaknesses.
Power/weakness of being an introvert
I am an introvert, only recently a popular thing to be. I tremble at talking on the phone even to my own friends, much less a stranger. I beg others to talk for me, to ask questions of strangers, and I avoid anything that might remotely resemble a cocktail party.
When I set out to start my own school, I failed to consider the importance of networking, of reaching out to old acquaintances, of making new ones. Over the past several months I’ve had to dig deep into my belief in my school and make phone calls to strangers, write emails introducing myself, and reach out to old friends with whom I never kept a connection. All with the intent to pick their brains, hook into their connections, and in my mind – use them.
For most of my life, I’ve solved my problems and attacked my goals alone. Only recently have I learned that it is the act of helping others that makes some people feel good about themselves. I thought I had conquered my fear of using people to help me, but apparently, it is still there residually.
I’d like to say it’s become easier, but even last night I felt sick just before I made another phone call to ask someone for their help. As with all these calls so far, it turned out to be an amazing experience, which felt far from wrong after I hung up. After each call or email exchange, I come away feeling renewed in my belief in the “rightness” of starting Da Vinci (read more about this teacher-powered school that my colleagues and I are forming).
More surprising is the feeling I have that in the telling of my “elevator speech,” I somehow touch the person to whom I’m speaking. They seem energized and genuinely interested in what I’m proposing. Each time, the conversation ends with a request to continue to share my journey and ideas. Far from “using” them, it has become a reciprocal interaction.
If the words alone can do this, imagine what the action can do.
There’s a process?
I’ve stumbled through this process of talking about my school to others. When I reflect back, there was a process that could have been neater if I’d known it was a process.
First: Write your elevator speech. What makes your dream different, better, necessary?
Second: List all the people you know and whom you think they might know.
Third: Read or reread all the articles that led you to make this decision not for the content but for the name of the author or people and organizations within the article.
Fourth: Call everyone. Email everyone. Put it out there on all the social media sites you have and get some more if you need. Don’t pick and choose. You will never know who will be interested in what and want to help.
Fifth: Follow up. Give the speech.
Sixth: Follow up. Thank them for their time.
Seventh: Follow up. Keep them up to date.
Fatal Flaw Revisited
While I still feel uneasy, every time I think about Da Vinci and the necessity of networking, not only now, but also throughout Da Vinci’s existence, I believe this journey will not be a Greek tragedy but a hero’s journey. There was an ordinary world, a call to adventure, refusal of the call, meeting with the mentor(s), crossing the threshold, tests, allies and enemies, approach, ordeal, reward, road back, and resurrection, and return with the elixir.
Each of the aspects of this journey toward Da Vinci will be a hero’s journey. In this journey of networking, I go through the entire process each time I connect with someone. However, the ability to return with the elixir is exhilarating and worth the constant battle against my introversion. Moving from Greek tragedy to the hero’s journey. Now that is what I want Da Vinci to be.