Consistency is overrated

I was talking with a mentoring client yesterday who just took two weeks off from teaching so she could focus on another project she’s been working on. As focused time outside of habituated ways of being can tend to do, it had an effect on her; besides having gotten some momentum on her project, she also ended this time feeling nourished, transformed, and excited to get back into the studio to teach.

To her surprise, she arrived to her class feeling really nervous. She shared how, during her class, she couldn’t seem to find her language or her rhythm. How weird—it had only been two weeks! How crazy to feel as if she had forgotten how to teach.

But it’s not that she had forgotten how to teach. She had changed. And every attempt to go back into her old pattern of teaching felt awkward or impossible.

The reality is this happens all the time. From one class to the next you become a different person. It’s just more pronounced when it’s been two weeks or two months instead of two hours or two days. It’s harder to ignore that you can’t do what you’ve always done.

I find it funny how much we all say we want to evolve and grow, and yet, when it happens, how much we resist bringing our new self out into the world.

But I’m not writing this for my client’s benefit, I’m writing it for mine. Because it was in that moment of seeing so clearly what was happening for her that I realized this is exactly the reminder I need. I’m in a new town with new students and I’ve been through a lot of internal and external change in the last few weeks—of course my teaching will be different.

And so no wonder why I’ve been nervous about teaching my first classes here. Being in this space as a teacher is not unlike being a pubescent boy—you never quite know what tone is going to come out of your throat. Some moments you’ll squeek, some moments you’ll find a deeper resonance than you’ve ever had. But the surprise factor is uncomfortable, and it keeps you on your toes in a way that can feel awkward. (And exciting and vital.)

Admittedly, it’s easier to change up how you teach (or anything else) when you come to a new town; no one but you knows. But that doesn’t mean that you need to wait until you make a big move to externally exhibit the internal shifts that you’ve gone through.

So risk it. Try something new in your teaching. Let it evolve with you. What are your other options? Become stale and bore yourself and others by saying the same damn things over and over for years? Start to feel fettered by your teaching because you can’t really be you? Lose students because they outgrow what you have to offer?

Because that’s the thing. Your students change and evolve, too. And they also resist change. They’re human, like you. And so, they’ll either roll with the changes in your teaching because that’s exactly what they need or they’ll find another teacher who suits their own evolution as a student. But as I said above, they’ll leave if you don’t change to stay true to yourself. So the sooner you realize that you can’t ever please everyone, that no matter what you do you’re bound to gain and lose students, the sooner you’ll be willing to just be you, as inconsistent as that may be.

And that’s a good thing, because consistency is overrated. In fact, science tells us that the more consistency the cells in an organism demonstrate, the closer that organism is to death. Seriously! So consistency is way overrated.

With that, I invite you to change it up.

Consider what rules you have for yourself as a teacher (or student, or mother, or son or…)? Pick one. And break it. See what sprouts.