Everyone is your teacher

My good friend Kwai Yu told me this the other day (a wise man from the East!) – treat everyone as your teacher.

I was reminded of this as I drove back from a recent coaching workshop I’d run for a group of solicitors. We were discussing presentation skills and I showed them one of my favourite clips from the TED web site, namely Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on how schools kill creativity. It’s an extraordinary talk, delivered with passion, humour, humility and skill – with no notes. It promotes some profound ideas and as example of persuasive presentation it has few equals, in my view.

But that’s just it isn’t it? It’s MY VIEW.

After the clip had finished I glanced around the room and waited for the response. Most of the attendees were enraptured by it, but a section of the audience were unmoved. “Yeah, it was OK,” said one. “I thought he ranted a bit…yes, a bit of a rant.”

At this point I’m feeling a bit confused and slightly irritated. Did we watch the same clip? This is a man whose thoughts and ideas are sought out at considerable cost by organisations and governments throughout the world. His TED talk is amongst the most downloaded of the whole on-line library (several million viewings).

And on the ranting point, don’t we pay our highest paid speakers to rant about something? Tom Peters describes himself as a professional loud-mouth but we pay considerable sums and go out of our way to be ranted at! Surely it’s the passion, the willingness to challenge orthodox ways of thinking that makes these people so compelling to listen to?

But what does it for one person doesn’t do it for another! We’re all different and it’s so easy to push our views and beliefs on to others. Just because I see the world that way doesn’t mean others will too. A lesson for me and hopefully others too.

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