Practice What You Preach

4 Nov

I’m an adult literacy tutor, and I have five students total.  I don’t actually spend the majority of my lessons teaching anything–most of my time goes towards convincing my students that yes, they can read/write/spell if they’d only try.  That’s the thing with adult learners: they’re insecure, have low self-esteem, and zero faith in their abilities.  They hide behind a wall of “I can’ts” and “I don’t knows,” because that’s more comfortable to do than mispronouncing a new word or incorrectly answering a comprehension question. Since they think they can’t, they’d rather not try, especially if it means protecting themselves from failure.

I constantly tell them that “I can’t” is the worst thing they could say when trying to learn. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy–if you think you can’t, then you won’t.  I often suggest, “Why not tell yourself that you can, and see what happens?”  Then they try again, and 9 times out of 10, they correctly (if hesitantly) sound out a word or correctly define vocabulary.

Lately, I haven’t applied this sentiment to my personal life.  When it comes to job-hunting, I have a serious case of the “I can’ts.”  Rejection has been the theme of the last nine months, which has led me to believe that “I can’t” get a job, period.  When I don’t have the “I can’ts,” then I’m plagued by the “I won’ts.” “I won’t apply to this, because I won’t get it.”  “I won’t network, because they won’t have any leads, anyway.”

This attitude has given me a sense of futility when it comes to job apps.  I’d rather not apply to job  if I feel like I’m ultimately going to be rejected.  And since I’ve told myself that I actually can’t get any job, I don’t try to find one, particularly because I don’t want to feel like any more of a failure.  Does any of this sound at all familiar???

When I realized I was big fat lying hypocrite, it helped pull me out of my funk a little.  I don’t think I can be a good teacher if the attitude I’m trying to instill in my students is totally absent from my approach to life.  The best teachers lead by example.  It’s unreasonable for me to expect self-confidence in others when I don’t have it myself.  I need to tell myself that “Yes, I can a get a job, I’m just not trying hard enough.”

Not only will this mantra guide my job search, but I hope it’ll pack more punch into my lessons.  If I really believe anything is possible and all goals are within reach for everyone, then my students will pick up on it.  In other words, I’ll be the conductor of the Positivity Rainbow express, and I want you all to come aboard.


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