Last semester I was blessed in my Organizational Behavior class to have learned more than I could have ever taught. I was gifted with being blown out of my comfort zone and I was honored to have deeply connected with all 24 of my amazing students/teachers.
I always share my core educational philosophy on the first night of the semester, which is that if we, as educators, are doing our job to the highest calling of our profession then, as Robert Heinlein said: “When one teaches, two learn.”
Needless to say, I don’t teach like other business professors.
I teach “Conscious Capitalism” (there is a book by the same name co-authored by John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods) in all my classes. The short and sweet version—people first, then the planet, and then the result, profit, will come.
I also teach “Heart-Centered Leadership” in every class—leading with the heart from a place of passionate vulnerability and transparency which when surrounded by those who believe what you believe will effortlessly allow you to motivate and inspire others to give you their blood, sweat, and tears.
I engage my students, helping them to truly master the course concepts, by connecting business with their personal experiences even if they have absolutely no business experience whatsoever.
Maharishi University of Management calls it “Consciousness-Based Education.” I call it the happy accident of learning in an engaged, personalized, conscious, awake and aware environment.
Simon Sinek, one of the top 20 most watched Ted Talk speakers to date, suggests, “If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business,” and I will add: If you don’t understand yourself, you cannot truly understand others.
Therefore, on the first night we introduce ourselves, which includes sharing our greatest weakness.
What? Yes, some run straight from class to an advisor to drop my class immediately. Most stick around, intrigued and hungry to spend the semester figuring out why I would lead with such an unusual thing.
As the semester progresses, my students learn that in order to create a highly productive team, they have to deeply see each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, including being very real about themselves and what they do and do not bring to the table.
People have been my passion my entire life. Even as a youngster I could see people deeply. In my teenage years, I saw weakness. Everywhere I looked people’s vulnerabilities, their soft spots, were effortlessly visible to me. I never used that to my advantage unless I saw a person being bullied, then I would lash out at the bully, and their soft spot, an instant and highly effective target.
As I grew older, I realized that when I looked at people, it was almost like a file cabinet opened on the top of their heads and I could make my way through the folders of their life in a single glance.
It wasn’t until I left my emotionally abusive marriage after nine years that I realized I deeply saw other people yet was completely and totally incapable of really seeing myself. I had no earthly idea what motivated me to do many of the things that I had done.
It was a rude awakening that subsequently resulted in a very long period of self-examination.
Knowing that getting deeply in touch with myself has gifted me with the ability to motivate and inspire others from a place of complete and total transparent, authentic vulnerability, it is now something I teach my students.
I am a firm believer we go through what we go through to help others go through what we’ve been through and that what deeply resonates with our hearts is the passion we need to figure out how to, some way, some how, make into our vocation.
“A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people created an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls. ~ Sam Keen
The business paradigms of days gone by will no longer be enough to secure top notch talent.
Millennials are not lazy slackers. They are the highly creative, innovative, vibrant, creative talent of the future. They are accustomed to all that is fast-paced, global and instantly connected.
I cannot successfully teach them anything with lectures and tests requiring regurgitation nor will they be satisfied in a traditional, micro-managed workplace. Employees of the future will no longer be satisfied just doing their job.
As such, it is time as educators that we switch up the game. It is now our job as the facilitators of knowledge to help our students think critically, to show them how the global environment that they take for granted through social media is actually their responsibility.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is no longer the question to be answered through our educational system.
It is time to ask: “What problem do you want to solve?”
It is time for us as educators to motivate and inspire our students to, as the famous Gandhi quote beckons: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Author: Christie Del Vesco
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Intel Free Press