Creating a Culture of Love
“If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts—so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people—we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.” ―
I recently started watching The Umbrella Academy. It’s a new take on an old theme – super heroes have problems too. What has drawn me in about this show is not the strength of the characters – but their weakness. I believe that all of us wish to be great, but even those with great powers still struggle with contentment and happiness. With every strength, there is an equal weakness.
I think that we forget sometimes that it is vulnerability and weaknesses that actually connect us much more than our strength. While we all long for excellence in our physical appearance, jobs, families, friendships, it is our beauty, our excellence, our greatness that often intimidates others and drives us apart. This is true in The Umbrella Academy. You see a family of children created by an extraordinary circumstance but they are driven apart by their differences. As I was watching, I couldn’t help but see how Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the billionaire “father” who adopted 7 children who were born on the same day, was a demanding teacher. He schooled his children in severe ways with the purpose of determining the extent of their abilities, but he did it without the greatest tool for teaching success – love.
Great Teachers Focus on the Students, Not Themselves…
When I was in school it wasn’t the teachers that were the most skilled who taught me the most. It was those teachers that showed me attention, affection, and affirmation. It was also those same teachers that brought fun to learning. Their focus was not on themselves, but on the students. Their desire was not to make themselves great, but instead to make great students. My best teachers did not desire the spotlight, they desired to illuminate the world around them. My best teachers were humble, kind and hard-working. By showing me that I mattered they ended up achieving their desired result sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. When I knew that my teacher(s) cared about me, I worked harder for them. Instead of trying to motivate me to learn, great teachers motivated me to succeed and be the best version of myself. They made me feel like I was capable of something great, and I believed them.
I remember my senior year at Liberty Christian school I had the best Geometry teacher. Her name was Mrs. Gray. Mrs. Gray was young, probably in her mid-twenties with dishwater blond hair that curled and fell just past her shoulders. I hardly remember her face, but I remember she was pretty. She piled us up with Geometry homework and demanded excellence, but what she really taught us was that we were people and that we mattered. She engaged in our lives and asked us about our families. While we learned geometry, she learned about us. I remember during spirit week, it was “Sixties Day”, she handed out our tests back to us sporting bell bottom jeans, a fringe leather vest and a colorful bandana. In a word, she was “groovy”. When she handed me my paper she said, “You got an A, jump back and kiss yourself.” I thought it was the coolest phrase ever. Mrs. Gray new how to have fun.
There was also a girl in our class named Victoria that sang all the time. She was beautiful and had a beautiful voice to match. Mrs. Gray often had to encourage her to stop singing during class, but she was always kind about it. I remember Victoria telling Mrs. Gray, “Thank you for the vitamin recommendations for my mom, they have helped her so much.” That is the kind of teacher that Mrs. Gray was, she recommended vitamins for our moms, she listened to our problems, she cared not just about our grades, she cared about us.
Fast forward 15 years and I’m working for Texas Instruments. My boss Sam Blunk called me into his office and asked me what my personal goals were. I told him that I wanted to go back to school and get a Master’s in Anthropology. He didn’t encourage me to become a better Help Desk Analyst or to move up in management in Texas Instruments, instead he wrote me a letter of recommendation for my application to the University of Texas at Dallas. He wanted me to become the best version of myself. I worked so hard for Sam and he lives near me. He works in law enforcement and when I see him I always bristle with delight because he “saw” me and it feels good to be seen.
I never became an Anthropologist, I actually ended up going to Dallas Theological Seminary and getting my Masters in Theology. Then I continued to work as a web and graphic designer who also happens to write and create content for my clients. Over the last 2 years I have spent a great amount of time consuming books by Brené Brown, Dave Ramsey, Rachel Hollis, The Harmon Brothers, Dan Partidge and many more. The recurring theme from all self-help books, business books, and every marketing thing that I’ve read is that if you care about people you will be a success.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO IMPACT LIVES
As a teacher, you have the power to impact lives. Let me say that again, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO IMPACT LIVES. That is a gift. Teachers can redirect a child’s life and help him or her become something great with nothing more than kindness, attention, affirmation, and affection. You don’t have to go to college for that and while you do have to to be certified to teach, you do not have to be certified to love others well.