I am a teacher. My dear mum is also a teacher, she eventually ended up owning a school. My beloved grandparents of blessed memory were also both teachers. Huh, truth be told, I am not so sure about my great-grand parents vocation… besides this post isn’t about my genealogy, so let’s stop here. This post is about the teaching vocation.
Some folks may discount another’s vocation as being irrelevant or perhaps not very profitable. They do this mostly out of ignorance. I’m pretty sure natives of the Amazon rain forest would marvel on how corporations like Forever Living Product, Edmark and Organo Gold have convinced millions of people around the world to pay good money to swallow little pills that acts as substitute for greens, roots, fruits and berries which grow freely in the Amazon.
In a similar way, some might discount the teaching vocation as being too lowly. I beg to differ though. Yes, we live in a country where civil servants and politicians live in better houses than entrepreneurs and industrialists. And yes, we live in a country where doctors and engineers are unemployed. But perhaps that is exactly the reason why a lot more of our people need to become educated.
What is an education? The word comes from the Latin word “educere” which means to draw out enlightenment. I believe that best sums it up. To enlighten others can take place in several forms, from the traditional classroom to the boardroom training program, from free radio broadcasts to blog posts like this, from one-on-one coaching to televised seminars. The list is endless. Nonetheless the intended final outcome is to enlighten.
As a speaker and trainer, I sometimes have to defend my professional fees, especially when the prospective client doesn’t fully appreciate the value being offered. Some say things like, “Is it not to just come and talk to these people and leave?” My standard response is, “What makes the Bible or Koran valuable? Is it not mere words printed on cheap paper?”
Of course, I am by no means comparing my value to that of the Holy Books, but nonetheless it is worth remembering that there is no such thing as “mere words”. Words can injure or heal. They can create peace or start a war. The right words administered to the right ears at the right time can make the listener adjust the sail to his ship and completely alter the course of his life’s journey.
With “mere” words written or spoken, nations have been uplifted and the chains of oppression and slavery has been broken. Just think of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr. With “mere” words, a voice said “Let there be Light” and “Lazarus, come forth” and the results are there as evidence. Words precede action.
So let it never be said that the job of a trainer, teacher, preacher, speaker as just “mere words”, for you never know just when those words would completely alter the course of a life that previously was set for doom or mediocrity.
So who can be a teacher? Anybody! Thomas A. Scott who was President of America’s second largest railway corporation was a teacher to Andrew Carnegie who would later own 90% of America’s steel. Dantata the great groundnut merchant mentored or taught the industrialist and Africa’s billionaire Aliku Dangote on the art of trading. Socrates taught Plato who later taught Aristotle. The role for every great leader must then be to teach, coach, mentor and enlighten their followers, employees and fans to find their voice and be the best they can. Bad leaders prop themselves up on the adulation and sycophantic praise of their followers. Great leaders remind their followers that they too can do the same.
I’m proud to be a teacher.