Melvyn Tan
December 7, 2013 — By tanmelvyn@gmail.com

Are You Passionate About Your Work?

[blockquote source=”Psalm 126:6 (NIV)“]Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.[/blockquote] Designing the Experience During one of my seminars on using Design Thinking as a strategic tool in creating a whole new level of school experience; I had the participants first identify an issue that their students were […]

[blockquote source=”Psalm 126:6 (NIV)“]Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.[/blockquote]

Designing the Experience
During one of my seminars on using Design Thinking as a strategic tool in creating a whole new level of school experience; I had the participants first identify an issue that their students were facing. To illustrate with an example; one of the groups identified the issue as “absenteeism”.

Next, I had the group re-craft the issue in the form of a question, rather than a statement. This went from: “high absenteeism among a small percentage of low progress students” to “why do these low progress students stay away from school“.

At this juncture, I’d ask the participants to examine if their questions were phrased from an administrator’s perspective or from the student’s perspective. Many of the would realize immediately that during this whole time they were staring at the issue from an administrator’s perspective.

Their next task is to re-craft the questions with the students in mind.

True Empathy
This is where almost all participants would hit the wall. Many will struggle with rephrasing the question and at this point, they began to realize that all this while, they’ve always claimed to be more student-centric but up until now do they realize that their point of view was still pretty much from the administrator’s standpoint. In fact, some of them had simply assumed that as an administrator, they’d know what’s best (or right) for the students; so much so that they sometimes dismissed what and how the students feel.

Reframing the Question
After several attempts, some would managed to get it, while others would still struggle with the reframing exercise. Continuing from our example, the team finally agreed upon the following as their Design Challenge: “how can the experience of attending school for the low progress students be further enhanced“.

Teaching is more than a job
Teaching is always seen as one of those vocations that is not just a job, but a calling. It is the kind of work that you’d hear people say, “I chose to be an educator because teaching has always been my passion“.

Choose the work that you are passionate about
Some of us would recall the idea of choosing the work that is aligned to your passion, and when you do that, time will just fly by and you would be in the moment and it would not even feel like work. In fact, you’d be so happy and engaged in your work that it no longer feel like work. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just ask any teacher.

Passion – Suffer
In fact, the word passion is derived from the Latin word, pati, which means to suffer or endure.  Now, if you ask any teacher if their work feels like that, you’d almost always get an affirmative answer.  To be honest, I did not know of the origin of the word passion until I read the book, Die Empty by Todd Henry.

If you recalled the movie, The Passion of the Christ, you’d remember that Christ endured the beatings and suffered on the Cross, just so that we can be saved.  That’s passion.

3Cs
The Psalmist reminds us in today’s verse that we should embrace the 3Cs:

  • Compassionate: to be empathetic of others’ distress
  • Commitment: determined to find a way to alleviate it
  • Cheerfulness: so that others can be saved

Prayer
Father, we thank You for Jesus’s passion, for enduring the beatings, for suffering on the Cross, so that we can be saved.  Father, we pray that You will guide us as we become more compassionate towards the distress of others, be committed to the cause to find a way to alleviate it so that we can bring cheerfulness to those who are saved.  We pray all these in Jesus name, Amen.