“Is this going to be on the test?” a student inevitably asks.
The question used to make my blood boil, and I didn’t understand why until years later. It is in many ways the birth of employee disengagement and mediocrity, which plague workplaces, and the world, today.
It’s not the student’s fault–they’re having an intuitive reaction to a curriculum that is largely useless to the practical adult they’ll soon be. People who didn’t ask the question, like me, were just weirdos who liked learning for its own sake. We were lucky…and perhaps gullible.
Here’s the scene I never saw, but wish I did.
Student: “Is this going to be on the test?”
Teacher: “What an interesting question. There’s a relationship to the material inside that question. What is that?”
Student: “Um, that I’m only learning this stuff to get through the test…?”
Teacher: “I so appreciate your honesty! And of course, you’re free to do that, but is that enough for you?”
Student: “What choice do I have?”
Teacher: “What choice, indeed! Yes, you all have to go to school until you’re eighteen, but each of you can choose how you want to engage with it. You may not like what you’re learning sometimes. That’s not up to you. It’s not really up to me, either. But where you do have freedom is how you relate to it. Because here’s the predicament you’re in:
The good news is that you get better at what you practice.
The bad news is you’re always practicing.
So if you’re spending half of your waking hours hating school and going through the motions, one day you’re going to do the same thing with your job, your relationships, and maybe even your kids.
Now you may say, ‘When I have a job I like, I won’t do that.’ Perhaps not. And how long will it take you to get a job you dolike? Right out of college? Doubtful. You might not love your job until your forties. And do you know how you earn a job you love? By kicking ass at the ones you don’t.
Your career doesn’t grow by doing the minimum to get by, waiting for your work to engage you. Your career grows when you engage the work. You don’t have to like it, but if you want to succeed, you do have to engage in it whether you like it or not. This is what a “good work ethic” actually means. And, of course, there are always parts of any job that you won’t like, and parts of any life that you won’t like.
How you show up as an adult in those situations, you’re practicing right now. There may be no better test of character.
So, do you still want to know if this is going to be on this test?”
Employee Disengagement Ends Here
Now, given that most high school teachers don’t “go there” with their students, if you manage people you’re left to pick up the slack. Have you noticed? You have to figure out how to manage employee disengagement? Yeah, you shouldn’t have to do that. Employee disengagement is largely the employee’s responsibility. But how?
Beginning April 27, 2017, I’m going to teach the forthcoming online course, “Open to Excellence” live in the Clear and Open Member Webcasts on Thursdays. Been thinking of becoming a member? Now is the time. This may not happen again. It will take several months. You will be challenged. You will grow. You will learn ways in which you’re sabotaging your own success, and you will change your destiny.
Sound interesting? Email me the most useless thing you learned in high school that you worked the hardest at, and to compensate for your suffering, maybe I’ll make you a deal.