Keyboarding was the most important class that I took during my high school years. Hands down, no doubt about it. Maybe it was called typing. I don’t remember; I’ve never taken a memory class. Whatever the class was called, the return on investment for that one semester is ridiculously high. I took one semester of keyboarding and use the skills that I learned there every day of my life. How much do I use the Spanish that I spent 3 years learning? Muy poquito. Or something like that.
My favorite class that I took while a student at the University of Tennessee was Walking. Yes, Walking was offered as an elective during my time there and it probably still is. Yes, I really took it. If you have ever seen me walk, you would know. As my younger friends might say, I’m a beast at walking. I’m the best walker that I know. Better than Walker, Texas Ranger? At the risk of losing my life to a roundhouse kick–yes. Better than George Herbert Walker Bush? Are you kidding me–of course! Better than Herschel Walker? Absolutely not; I do nothing better than Herschel Walker. He was a beast before calling someone a beast was cool. He’s O.B.—Original Beast.
Just kidding about me walking better because of the class. I still walk like a baboon who used to be in a marching band; I would describe it as a graceful lumber. I did take Walking, though. We walked all over campus and around the track while learning ways to become healthier. It was fun in a strange sort of way. Mainly because I enjoyed making fun of the instructor.
The instructor was a Graduate Teaching Assistant (I think that is what they were called) and he was far to excited to be teaching a Walking class at 8 o’clock in the morning. We would all be standing or sitting around and he would burst into the room, hopping as he walked. Sort of like a real-life Tigger minus the tail and the friend who likes honey. In fact he was very much against honey. Well, really he was against s eating Honey Buns, especially for breakfast.
As he entered, he would say in a hyperactive voice “Who’s ready to go walking!” And the reply would always be the same–blank stares and slack jaws. I was amazed at his enthusiastic resiliency. No matter how uninspired we were, he would keep coming with his over-the-top excitement. And I think his enthusiasm was genuine. He truly thought that his class was the most important class in the whole university, maybe even in the whole world. Let others teach about piddling topics like neurosurgery or mechanical engineering. Walking was more important and if you judged the importance of a subject solely by the energy of the instructor, I would agree.
Eventually, though, some of us warmed up to our exuberant leader. I, for one, started to care more about learning how to calculate my heart rate and the best way to breathe during exercise. It wasn’t because the content of the class was stimulating, it was because the instructor was stimulating. It was hard not to care when the person in front of you cares so much.
That was the real lesson I learned during Walking class. If I show others how much I care, they might care, too. Even if at first they really don’t want to. If I am consistently enthusiastic, eventually it will rub off on those I am trying to lead. Some will respond, some won’t. But if I’m not energetic, hardly anyone will respond.
Whether you are trying to lead a family, a company, a department, a church, or any other group of people, don’t forget to be passionate. And if you aren’t passionate about what you are doing, stop doing it and let someone else with a little heat take your spot.
While I can’t remember the instructor’s name, I will never forget his passion. He brought the heat. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if others are able to say the same about us one day.
(What are you passionate about? Who is your role-model when it comes to enthusiasm? )