High school teachers are special people. I remember one who was a real classic. She was incredibly passionate about the subjects she taught: English, American History and World History – and about her profession in general. She put her heart and soul into ensuring her students understood the facts, concepts, and what was expected of them in her class. She knew her value to her students…the young people that would some day be leaders in businesses and communities.
An experienced teacher, she had developed a true style that was effective and memorable. Similes and metaphors rolled off her tongue with the greatest of ease. They were used many times over to illustrate her points and many of them stuck with her students.
She specialized in history and English and her passion for learning showed through in the way she taught. She continually improved her game through reading and research(before the age of the Internet), but she stuck to her guns when it came to style and personality. She created a brand that was memorable.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” was one of her favorite go-to lines (she loved Teddy Roosevelt). Among others were:
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
“We raise sheep, we rear children.”
Inevitably, when something seemed tough, she would chalk it up to “building character.”
And one of her favorite questions, “Clear as mud?” was used artfully to get students to voice inquiries when they didn’t quite understand the day’s lecture.
She attacked every day with enthusiasm because she knew she was making an impact through her unique style of teaching and the knowledge she was sharing.
This teacher, whether accidentally or on-purpose, knew the answers to some fundamental questions which helped her become the best she could be and kept her from getting bogged down in high school politics, or issues which simply didn’t apply.
She had created her value premise. Below are 5 questions you can ask yourself to discover or create yours. Keep the answers at the top of your mind, in your work area or at your fingertips daily, to help you establish trust and credibility for yourself and those around you.
- What do you specialize in doing? What are you really good at that makes a difference in your job? What do you love about it? How do you learn more?
- How does what you do every day add value? What is your company’s mission and how do you fit it? What part do you play? Why does it matter?
- Who is impacted by your work? Who misses you when you are gone? What goes undone?
- How do those impacted benefit from your work? Do you lighten someone’s load, encourage their creativity or keep them on task? Do you help customers on a daily basis?
- What is your personal brand? What do people remember about you? How would they describe you to others?
Bottom line, if someone you worked with didn’t see you for 20 years, what would they remember about your work or your personal style. Did you speak softly and carry a big stick or were you looking for ways build character?