Here’s the situation: you’re performing, doing your thing.
Your thing could be playing or teaching music, speaking in front of a group, writing a blog, or anything else. The specifics don’t really matter. What matters is that you’ve prepared, practiced, woodshedded, polished, and gotten your ducks in a row. You’re ready, and you’re not taking any prisoners.
So what do you do about the person who isn’t paying attention?
Obsessing Over the Zit
As I’ve mentioned before, my day job is in higher education (I’m an academic advisor), and my favorite part of the job is teaching a study skills class. It’s really satisfying to see struggling students improve, and I love communicating the idea that that success isn’t something you’re born with, but a collection of discrete, learnable skills that anyone can acquire. This is my sincere belief.
Personally, I think it’s pretty good stuff. If a given lecture falls flat, I tweak it until it’s interesting. I come to play, baby.
There’s always someone who isn’t into it, though. I might have 19 students taking notes and paying close attention, but there’s always one dude in the back who’s half asleep (or totally asleep). As a teacher, noticing this person zoning out during your polished lecture is kind of like getting all dressed up and discovering a single zit: no matter how great the overall situation is, we tend to focus on the flaw. It’s hard not to.
One of my favorite authors, Seth Godin, has a great way of dealing with this problem, and it’s totally transformed my teaching.
It’s Not For You
Seth says it perfectly, from 13:18 to 14:44. Take a minute and a half and check out what he has to say:
. . . Unless You Decide It Is For You
Here’s the key, though: when that inattentive person comes around, when he decides that maybe it is for him, we’ll be here to invite him into the fold. It’s not a permanent decision, not at all. At any moment, he can change his mind, and we’ll welcome him home.