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Bringing your Heart with You…

Early Morning by a Pond
A lovely picture I took early that morning outside my hotel room…

I’ve not been able to write the last few days for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was getting seriously lagged out from too many days on the west coast.  It’s a terrible feeling, when I plant myself on the sofa of a hotel room, and sit through three episodes of Law and Order, because I can’t muster enough drive to get up and do something.  Law and Order is the best thing playing in most hotel rooms, and it plays every night on at least three channels.

Anyway, I’m feeling a little better now and wanted to share one little tidbit that I gathered from a business conference I spoke at earlier this week.  The opening keynote speaker was Steve Farber, leadership guru.  He was great, and a hard act to follow.  But what he said that had the biggest impact on me was that you’ve gotta have love.  You’ve got to love your job, and you’ve got to help your employees love their jobs. 

Two of his slides said…

After numerous interviews and case analyses, we noted that many leaders used the word love freely when talking about their own motivations to lead. *

I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did… The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. **

I especially liked it when he said, “you want your employees to bring their hearts with them to their jobs.”

I think that this is especially important with teaching and learning.  There is so much about teaching and learning that is about communication.  And it seems to me that when communication has heart behind it, then it becomes especially sticky.

* Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. The Leadership Challenge. 3rd ed. Jossey-Bass, 2003.
** Jobs, Steve. “Commencement Speech for Stanford University.” Stanford University. 12 Jun 2005.

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  • http://www.matthewktabor.com Matthew K. Tabor

    Yes and no – when caring about something disrupts disinterested inquiry, we don’t function optimally.

    I’ve had an interesting internal battle with this issue regarding sports.

    I was at one time a professional athlete in a minor sport. I didn’t love that sport.

    Because I didn’t love every bit of it, I was able to analyze my performance and go from mediocre to a professional level very, very quickly. The disinterested approach is the most efficient way to improve.

    I contrast that with baseball, a game which I love to watch and play. I’ve played in games where I was hurt, overmatched, dominant, and everything in between. No matter the circumstances, I was always satisfied because I love the game.

    It’s oversimplifying dedication, commitment and enjoyment to say that one needs to love what they do. Sometimes when you love something unconditionally, there just isn’t enough impetus to do the best job possible in the most efficient way possible because it’s satisfying even if you don’t.

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  • Kevin Hankinson

    Yes, yes, and yes. Love is critical as an educator. When teachers stop loving what they do, irritability festers. In fact, I believe when teachers become disinterested in teaching, students become disinterested in learning. We want students to love learning.

  • http://www.matthewktabor.com Matthew K. Tabor

    Don’t confuse “disinterested” with “uninterested.” They aren’t the same at all.

    Now that I think about it, I just saw a post about the difference the other day:


    It’s quite possible to be a disinterested teacher without becoming irritable.

  • http://learninglagniappe.edublogs.org/ Marie Coleman

    Caring, the heart of relationships…and relationships is one “r” of our 3-pronged approach to students – rigor and relevance being the other two (with credit to Bill Daggett and the International Center for Leadership in Education).

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  • Kevin Hankinson

    While I understand the difference between “disinterested” and “uninterested,” I still do not see impartiality as a means to engage students more fully in the learning process. Students need interested teacher who are compassionate about their subject matter and a little biased toward their content.

  • http://karynromeis.blogspot.com Karyn Romeis

    I hope I’m not excluded from this debate on the ground of not being a teacher ;-)

    I feel very frustrated when I can’t put my heart into what I do. I love to love my job, so I’m totally with Dave and Steve Farber on that point.

    For the past two days I’ve been at a Moodle moot at the Open University. I have had a few occasions to vist the OU and ever time I come away with a sense of “I want to work there”.

    Every person I’ve ever met who works at the OU is totally sold on what they do. It’s like a geekfest.

    Alan Fletcher of the OU’s Knowledge Media institute (KMi) described his staff as a “mix of part-timers, full-timers and never-go-homers”. KMi is involved almost exclusively in research, the researchers hail from all over the globe and their passion doesn’t seem to have restricted their ability to be disinterested.

    I can’t see why it would be necessary to be dispassionate in order to be disinterested. That would make a nonsense of the distinction between disinterested and uninterested, surely?

  • http://www.northwestvoice.com/home/Blog/tigoree/ Tim Goree

    There seems to be some confusion here between “love” and “having a driving purpose”. I personally believe that you can’t possibly “love” all of the aspects of your job. I “love” my job as much as anyone I know, but I sure don’t “love” certain aspects of it. What gets me through those unlovely aspects is my “driving purpose”. I have a legacy to create, and I “love” the fact that what I do every day serves the purpose of solidifying that legacy.

    I don’t think people need to “love” their job to be excellent at it, but it helps. What I try to do for my employees is continually point out the bigger picture and help them connect their job to their legacy. Belief and purpose is the driver, not “love” exactly…

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Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
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Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
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