Monday, May 19, 2014

Don’t Waste a Gift—Part One

The funny thing about having a “gift”—an ability or understanding that’s particular to you, something that sets you apart—is that it often works both ways. 

I can share my gift with you. 
Maybe you benefit from it.  But I benefit from it too.

            I began to realize, years ago, that I have a knack for explaining things to other people—it could be using Microsoft Excel, or appliqueing quilt blocks, or diagramming sentences.  Soon after, I realized how my own understanding (of whatever concept I was teaching) was broadened, cemented, and further enjoyed, simply by sharing it with someone else.

For instance, several college classmates approached me one day after Advanced Grammar class. 

“Can we study with you?”  They asked. 

Reason I Didn't Write Yesterday: Busy Drinkin'
I was astonished.  I didn’t feel as though I knew the material any better than anyone else in the room.  I assumed their belief in me was simply because I was a few years older than they were.  But, just maybe they saw something in me I couldn’t see.  Flattered, I accepted, and we arranged to meet over the weekend.  Desperate to instruct them properly, I studied the assigned concepts more thoroughly than I would have if only my own grade was at risk.

That weekend I was able to lead them in study with assurance and pride.  Consequently, their scores on subsequent quizzes and tests improved.  And so did mine.  I learned each concept multiplied by three: once, in cursory read-throughs, to acquaint myself with each new topic; again, in formulating the plan-of-action I would use to review them; and again, when we drilled each concept together.  Needless to say, I made an A in a class that many struggled and suffered through.

Laziness too often robs me of the pleasure of the two-way process of sharing a gift.  I mean, think about all of the hard work I had to do in order to tutor my classmates!  Who wants to put forth that kind of effort every day?  It’s exhausting.  So I let the dread of the sweat outweigh the joy of the result. 

Don’t be like me.  Don’t waste it.

Maybe I’ll benefit from it.  But you’ll benefit from it too.

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