Starting Every Session with Fresh Energy
It's tough not to get burnt out when you're teaching the same thing for the thousandth time. It's even harder to bring fresh energy to a group when the last one's negativity has dragged you down.
Anyone that's been doing this for long enough, sees the ebbs and flows of training. The good doesn't stay good and the bad doesn't stay bad. You'll always have some negativity, and sometimes it has nothing to do with you.
Humans are messy creatures that bring their baggage everywhere we go. And sometimes our personal lives spill out into our work and it's very difficult to start every day with a clear head. The end result is that we are not always at our best when others are expecting excellence.
I remember the week after my infant niece died. I did not want to work and I certainly didn't want to be perky or upbeat. I wasn't feeling optimistic or engaged in anything. Yet, I had a contract to fulfill. There wasn't anyone to take my place and I couldn't financially back out. The show had to go on.
Whether you're feeling burnt out, personally stressed, or less than enthusiastic about your current trainees, there are a few things that can help you start every session with a clear head and optimistic outlook.
Learn to Meditate
One of the best things I've ever done, professionally or personally, is to learn how to meditate. What once was a new-age thing is now a very common practice. For me personally, it taught me how to clear my mind before any event even if I was extremely stressed or distracted. It's been a way to center myself in the present and in the work ahead of me. And it's not difficult to learn and you don't need a lot of time to feel the benefits.
In Try a Fast Meditation for a Less Stressful Workday, Ella Gibbons explains that meditation increases resilience, improves focus, and our ability to work under stress. I personally like the meditation app Insight Timer, as it lets you choose the length of the meditation. That means you can easily find five minutes before your session to center your mind on the task ahead. You can also try a quick video like 1 Minute Quick Breath Meditation. The idea is to prepare your mind and reduce distractions before you walk into the session.
Keep "The Basics" Fun
One reason we get burnt out is we talk about the same basic things all the time. No matter what the subject, there are always a set of basic rules, concepts, strategies, moves or practices. The topics are generally vague and aren't that interesting to us anymore. Yet, they are necessary steps for any beginner even if we're tired of teaching the same old thing.
Instead of letting the basics go stale, find ways to keep them interesting. Incorporate a different technology like gamification into your process. Add a new teaching technique or create a video explainer. There are many ways to communicate these simple concepts, even if they bore you to death.
I can't tell you how many times I've explained the difference between leadership and management. Yet, there are new and interesting studies done on both these topics every month. Instead of getting bored myself (which I'm sure is obvious), I always infuse the latest thoughts on the subject. It doesn't take much time and it helps keep me stay interested and enthusiastic about the same material.
Fix What You Can
I'm a huge fan of planning. I've written extensively about my belief that we can reduce the risk of failure if we make some simple plans. For example, if we're always running late because we don't have reliable childcare, the obvious answer is to find different childcare. It's hard to focus on a session when we fly in at the last minute.
Take an honest look at your schedule, including both your personal and professional time. Try to pinpoint what situations stress you the most and whether or not they can be changed. It's not enough to say "well, this is how it's always been". We can't prevent emergencies but we can make small changes that help relieve some of our worst stress. And that always helps us keep a positive mindset before training.
Remember It's Not about You
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received as an instructor was that it's never about me. No one cares how I'm doing. Trainees are not there to be my friend or to listen to me complain. It's always - always - about them.
These are a few tips that I've used over the years that help me enter each session with a sense of fresh energy. None of these may work for you, however, that's not the point. The idea is to find ways that work for you because teaching and training can be very draining! Keep trying new things to help stay motivated and fresh. We're expected to behave a certain way and it really doesn't matter if we're just not feeling it that day.
Yet, the show must always go on. And it's up to us to give our best every day.
Liesha's a business educator by day and Kyokushin Black Belt by night. She's the author of Killing Rapunzel: Learning How to Save Yourself Through Determination, Grit, and Self-Employment (her mother hates the title - but it's a metaphor mom!). She talks freelancing adventures at...