What drives you?
I was talking to a friend recently about what drives people or motivates them in life. I asked, "What drives me?". He responded, "Your family, you seem driven by family." This pleased me, but also surprised me a bit. I'm always looking for a sense of balance in my life. Balance as a mother, friend, wife, my role at work, and with my own self. This usually comes down to time and the relationships that connect with others in those roles.
What is "Drive"?
If we break it down to the barest level from the dictionary "drive" is defined, "to strive vigorously toward a goal or objective; to work, play, or try wholeheartedly and with determination." It seems elusive to really understand as it is not tangible. I really think of it as your motivation. You have to dig deeper and for me it was helpful to ask another person. If you think about others that are close to you, it might be possible that you could identify what drives them based on the actions and words that come from them. This ties closely with recognizing what motivates you and what motivates those around you. Identifying this will help to understand myself and the others that I have close relationships with both personally and professionally.
In a recent book I read, "Creative Schools", by Sir Ken Robinson, he spoke often about there being two worlds.
"We live in two worlds: the world within us and the world around us."
Finding your drive
I wanted to dig a little further as I contemplated this and found a good listing of factors that could motivate a person from, Audrey Marlene in post called, "Motivation".
In another book I read this summer, "Brain Rules", it was pointed out that as humans we have natural drives that we may be aware of such as our hunger drive, thirst drive, sex drive, but we also as humans have a learning drive. A deep desire for learning. This really hits a big part of what drives me. When I'm looking for opportunities to improve, to grow and become more capable it all comes down to learning and seeking out new challenges for more growth. When I have a moment of free time, I'm searching and yearning for more information to fill my mind, solve a problem, or move me to the next learning point. Having recently watched Sir Ken Robinson's talk, "Finding Your Element", it made me start reflecting on my recent discussion about what drives me and also what my "element" or passions in life were and how they connect. As I watched it, he kept coming back to what you feel talented at.
My Passion in LIfe
I have a passion for learning and teaching. It isn't maybe as exciting as someone that has a passion for art, music, dance, medicine, serving others, etc., but it is mine. I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in the 3rd grade. Learning cursive, multiplication, reading chapter books, it was all so exciting. I absorbed it and my love of learning led my mind to deciding early on that I wanted everyone to feel the excitement that comes with learning.
When I graduated high school I had talked myself out of that career path as I knew it would not financially be the best move. I set my sites on the business world. In one of my business classes I was required to volunteer for a program called Junior Achievement. I was tasked with teaching a lesson about city planning to a class of 4th grade students. I was essentially handed all of the materials and a plan, but then I had to teach it. I went in there wondering if 4th graders would even care about city planning. As I started the lesson and encountered them excitedly learning it was an experience exactly what Sir Ken Robinson was talking about. Like a natural resource buried inside, I felt great during that lesson. I felt alive. I felt like I was talented and they were learning. I felt like I had a natural finesse similar to how I assume a skilled athlete can move around a playing field and be just at the right place at the right time. The classroom teacher told me I was a natural and I should be a teacher. I'm not going to make you think this lesson was life shattering, but to me it was as it set me on a completely different course. I went to my advisor the next day and changed my major to education and have never looked back. I've always had a strong belief in finding a career that would be one I loved and would challenge me as much as it fulfilled me. Connecting the learning that I was in love with to a career that would allow me to continue to learn and help others learn seemed like the perfect fit.
Learning on the edge
This year marks my 20th year as a teacher. It is unbelievable as when you are doing something you love it goes so fast. People talk about retirement and it is not even a thought in my mind. Even when it comes I know I will move into another role that will couple my desire for learning and teaching together. When I learn something new I have a strong desire to share it with others. To me learning and teaching others goes hand in hand. When I learn something new it is a thrill to me. Learning can be in a conversation, book, blog post, podcast, training, and in just about any experience in life. I refer to it as my brain fuel. Without it I don't exist.
A recent 10 Minute Teacher podcast I listened to had guest, Randy Ziegenfuss referring to a thought from Robert Marzanno that promotes a person to "work at the edge of one's competence". This phrase struck me as that edge is where discomfort comes in. Many hold back on feeling that discomfort no matter their age. As adults we tend to want to be experts in our field, always wanting to appear as though we know everything. This causes many to not value the importance of pushing their learning further.
I get uncomfortable myself. I'm experiencing it right now as I write a course for a local university called, "Technology for Diverse Learners". It is a topic that I'm not an expert in. I am not highly skilled at knowing the best way to teach English Language Learners, students with special needs, and high ability students. I know technology, and I have experienced teaching students with a multitude of needs. However, now I'm purposefully planning how to teach others. It is a topic that for years I have wanted to dive into deeper, but I have not had the purpose to push myself. Like many teachers I did my best to figure it out along the way, but not purposefully. I'm definitely at the edge of my competence, learning different categories student needs fall in, accessibility features on a variety of platforms, assistive technology, and exploring Universal Design for Learning for the first time. Despite the doubts in my mind, I'm so excited to learn this and prepare to teach it to other educators.
This takes me back to what drives me. I would love to look you straight in the eye and say it was my family. That sounds quaint. It sounds like a response I should say. However, I identify my drive as seeking out opportunities to improve, to grow and become more capable. This comes in my personal life and professional life. I'm curious, I'm that nerdy person that looks up all new words encountered, stands in the grocery store and scans food items on my phone to learn their nutritional value, reads all of the flyers people oddly place in public restrooms. I then may be that annoying person that needs to run and tell someone or tweet one of the new facts I just learned. I email a teacher I know that will try something new with me and set up a time to dive in. I count myself as one of those lucky people in life that has found a way to blend my drive with my passion as I work on a life of learning and teaching.
Wondering about your drive, what your passion or natural element might be? Maybe ask a friend, take a look at the list of motivators above. What do you tend to be drawn towards? Be honest with yourself and be realistic too. I hope and dream for my two young boys some day that they will have the capabilities to connect all of the right elements together in their lives as adults. It makes for a very happy one.
Mother, wife, teacher, learner, information seeker, outdoor lover, & I guess now a novice blogger.