I actually started my career as an ESL teacher at a kids’ school in Osaka, Japan. I did that for a few years before moving on. I taught at elementary schools, at companies, taught privately and even opened my own school. I’ve had students as young as two and as old as 85.
Teaching taught me one very valuable lesson, that people, young and old, aren’t that different. In fact, they are more similar than we realize.
Spend any time with a kid and their parents and you’ll see just how alike they are.
It makes sense because of the birds-of-a-feather phenomenon. The more time we spend with someone, the more we are influenced by them.
That’s why it’s so important to choose who we associate ourselves with carefully.
I’ve learned that people in an office setting act very much as they do in the classroom.
Today, as a consultant, I see the same “diseases” infecting some of my clients. Many of which they picked up in school.
There is one small difference. In school, the consequences are relatively small. The teacher might grade you unfairly or you might be asked to pay a visit to the principal. In business, however, the same “diseases” can cost you dearly.
Do you know anyone with these “diseases?”
Smartypanticis. Students suffering from this think they are the ones who should be teaching the class. That they know better than the teacher. Solution: Let your work speak for itself. No need to boast.
Clownitis. Students who think everything is a joke. Don’t realize that their actions have real consequences. Solution: Learn the art of humor. Some jokes don’t go down well with people. Tread carefully until you know their character.
Credititis. Students who want extra credit for everything. They want to be given praise for the smallest effort. Solution: Doing well is credit in an of itself. Constantly proving your worth will not go unnoticed.
Suckupitis. Think that the best way to get ahead is to praise everything the teacher does. It’s one thing to respect them and another to grovel at their feet. Good teachers want mutual respect in the student-teacher relationship. Solution: Be sincere.
Echoitis. Students who comprehend only after the 99th time the answer or point has been repeated. It eats up valuable class time for the other students. Solution: Ask once or twice, but after that, if you still don’t get it, see them about it after class.
MikeTysonitis. Students who argue about their grades. Don’t be argumentative, it doesn’t pay off. Solution: Talk to the teacher privately. You’d be surprised how many people want to go to war when a calm conversation is all that is needed. Whatever you do, be polite. It goes a long way.
Deadlinitis. Absolutely, positively, couldn’t turn in an assignment on time, even if their life depended on it. Solution: Set the deadline one day earlier. That way you give yourself space if something goes wrong
Excucitis. Blame everyone and everything, including the weather, for their bad grades. Solution: Learn to take responsibility (this point alone is what I believe would save marriages). It’s amazing how powerful the words, “I’m sorry” are in life.
Tardicisitis. Students who have watches that are set 10 minutes slower than everyone else’s (they are always late to class). Solution: Get there 30 minutes early.
Whineitis. Complain about every assignment, project, group, grade, class, and/or incurable disease. Solution: Grow up. We all have bad days.
Paranoia. Think the professor is out to get them. Solution: While there are exceptions in every school, for the most part, teachers are too busy with their own lives to care that much about one student. Move on.
Whisperitis. Students so quiet no one can hear them. Solution: Join the debate team or the local Toastmasters. You’d be surprised how helpful presentation skills are in life.
Now go back and change the word students for coworkers and bosses for teachers and you’ll understand what I mean when I say work is just like school.
You might not have any of these diseases yet, but remember, what starts out as an infection can quickly spread.
Adrian Shepherd started his career as an ESL teacher in Japan, but today focuses on consulting with individuals and companies on productivity. His background in education helped him develop The One-Bite Time Management System (TMS), a revolutionary new system based entirely around simplicity: small bites that people can digest easily. He is based in Osaka, Japan. Learn more about Adrian at adrianshepherd.com.
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