I taught three different classes last semester, one at the undergraduate level and two at the MBA level, including one I delivered for the first time. It’s a lot of work teaching three different subjects to three different audiences. I got my evaluations back today from all three classes and many students thought I did a very good job, most thought I did an acceptable job, and a few thought I should have been fired yesterday.
If you are going to have high expectations of yourself and others, there is no way you can make everyone happy. High expectations by definition means you have to take risks and try some things you’ve never done before, or make changes to established methods in search of continual improvement. When you take risks, some things are not going to work as well as you thought they might, and from time to time, they might even suck.
When you challenge adults to accept full responsibility for their own learning, you accept the risk that many will not embrace that challenge. Some will lead their entire lives never even understanding the importance of that challenge. Even though I know their self-imposed mediocrity won’t be my fault, it still means I have to continuously improve how I deliver that challenge and how I live up to it myself.
A student said to me this semester “I’m waiting for you to teach me something.” I just about came out of my skin. The prison of that paradigm awaits everyone that surrenders to it’s normative expedience.
Freedom of thought and expression is a wage of accountability, never a privilege of mere participation. Self-doubt, dissonance, and rejection come with the territory of high expectations. If you are not willing to embrace the messy parts of who you are, how you do your job, and what others might think of you, then you can never invite and encourage others to do the same.
If you are willing to seek the edge of chaos, you will soon learn that some of the most amazing people you will ever have the honor to meet were there long before you arrived.