This past weekend, I heard an interview with Jahana Hayes who won the title of National Teacher of the Year. I was truly impressed by what she said and not surprised that she won that title.
What was so impressive was her approach to teaching. In its simplest terms, she said that her job was to help her students discover their unique talents and abilities and understand that their job in life was to find out how to use them for the benefit of mankind. She had all her students participate in many community activities, all designed to instill in them an understanding of the importance of serving others.
Why I found this so impressive is that I have had the opinion, for many years, that people in general and young people in particular ask themselves the wrong questions about what to do with their lives. This is why so many don’t seem to have a sense of purpose. Especially when we’re young and still in school, the question that seems to be invariably asked is: what do you want to do when you grow up? I don’t know about you but I had no clue what the answer to that question was when I was about to graduate high school. Did you?
I went to engineering school because I liked math and science but I got clear pretty quickly that I didn’t want to be an engineer. Then I went to law school because that seemed like a good idea. And yes, I did practice as an intellectual property attorney for 18 years, but was that what my life was supposed to be about? In hindsight, clearly not. And why do so many go through the proverbial “mid-life crisis?” Again, I think it’s because we all have been programmed to find something we would like to “do.”
Which brings me back to my teacher of the year. She’s got it right. She’s not about teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Actually, she’s a history teacher. She’s about helping her students discover their unique talents and abilities and then choose a path that will allow them to use those talents and abilities for the benefit of mankind.
What I often add to that when I speak to people on this subject is to suggest to them that they wind the clock ahead to a time way in the future, perhaps after they have completed the working part of their life, and look back from there, and imagine what the legacy would be that they left behind. You see, it’s hard to understand what you want to do looking forward from here. But if you go into the future and look back from there, it’s often easy to see what you would have liked to leave behind.
In conclusion, wherever you are in your life, if you’re struggling with what you’re doing with your life now or what’s next for you, consider the suggestions here to find your answers. If you look from the future on the contribution you want to leave as your legacy, the answer as to what to do next should become pretty obvious. If you need some help with this, we’re only a phone call away.