Thursday, October 11, 2012

REFLECTIONS: I TEACH, therefore, I LEARN


In his famous and well-known book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", Dr. Stephen Covey explains to the reader how much one can learn from actually teaching something they have learned. Although this may sound a little like a non-expert teaching another non-expert, I can personally attest to how effective this is. Case in point: I teach kids to play tennis, and therefore, I must already know how. Granted, I do know much about this game from several decades of involvement. But when working with students, and I'm talking the 10 and under variety, I must always consider how to most effectively explain what takes place between the racquet face and the ball. After hitting hundreds of thousands of bright yellow fuzzy spheres, I can honestly say that I have learned as much about striking a ball from teaching students as I have from my own personal study and experiences.

Cause and effect is a wonderful thing. By striking the ball in a certain way, I CAUSE  the ball to move forward. The EFFECT is generated by what parameters the CAUSE consisted of. In other words, did I drive through the ball or brush its back from low to high or high to low. This sounds so simple, but complexity is always simple at its underpinnings.

As I played tennis last night with my hitting partner, I thought about what I have taught others as it related to what I was doing myself. If I hit a good shot, I pictured my demonstration of a well-hit ball. If I hit a poor shot, I visualized the modeling of a poorly struck ball.  It is almost like I could draw upon my lessons–not taken, but given–as a minds-eye reference of what-to-do or not-to-do on the court.

I was fortunate enough to play very well, and our rallies definitely ended more on winners than on errors. I felt confident, as I approached each ball, that I could dictate or decide how and where the ball would move. This is a sensational feeling on the tennis court, and I almost didn't want to stop for fear of how long it would take to achieve this utopia again. But then I realized something: I get to teach more students this weekend. It will be through these experiences that I will continue to charge-up the positive forces in my game and once again be able to re-apply them. In essence, I will learn by teaching.

Stephen Covey knew how powerful this formula can be. His book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", is one of the most valuable books I have ever read in my life. Interestingly enough, I have heard his philosophies echoed over and over throughout the years by many others as they too drew inspiration from this valuable tool. If you would like to learn the seven most valuable lessons in life that you will ever learn, read the book. I cannot recommend it too highly. And if you want to learn something really well, learn it from another and then teach it to someone else as soon as you can. You may be surprised by the result.

In memory of Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012)
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People



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