So the last post was all about not being able to offer something you don’t have. This post is about offering something that others don’t need or want. I had an experience yesterday that made me take a step back and take a closer look.
So here’s what happened. I’ve been taking yoga since the beginning of the year, I really like it. At the gym I go to, there are two different yoga teachers who have completely different styles. One teaches a class on Sunday morning that is relaxing and when I first started going, I thought it was somewhat challenging. Then I started taking the other teacher’s evening classes who teaches a more traditional style yoga that is more intensive. Now that I have a point of comparison, I have come to look upon Sunday’s class as a nice stretching/relax type yoga class. It allows me to move peacefully into my Sunday when I can make it.
This past Sunday, the more intensive teacher was substituting for the “relaxing” teacher. Because this teacher is more into teaching traditional yoga poses with some challenging vinyasa flows (moving from one pose to another), I’ve seen her ego get in the way when she tries to impress newer students who attend her classes. I know she wants students to love what she loves, I get that. But let’s put it this way, the very first class I attended with her she did an inverted pose using the wall. It was a more advanced pose and I was not the only first-timer in the class that day.
Given this, I was a tad worried about a disconnect with this Sunday class, but I was hopeful that she would take it easy on students…because….they are different… and beginners for the most part. Surely she’ll notice the diversity in the room. And if she were smart…she would use this class as an opportunity to attract some of these students to her classes in the evenings. The Sunday morning class is much larger due to the relaxing nature of it, and the teacher’s soothing voice which works well for a Sunday morning ritual. Also, the level of intensity is much lower and as a result, there is a broader mix of ages, experience, and such.
Now, just so I’m clear, I prefer the more intensive teacher because she helps me understand what yoga is and pushes me to my yoga edges. I like that kind of thing.
So back to this past Sunday’s class. You can probably guess what happened by now. She did not take it easy on the class, in fact she pushed the class beyond where it wanted to be. In this case, she offered something that the others didn’t want or need. I wondered as we worked through a pretty rigorous Sunday morning routine, how she was missing the cues of the other people around me. Several people stopped throughout the many poses and flows, there was clear struggle to keep up, heck I was struggling, and all the while, she was missing the cues. At the end, people could not get out of there fast enough.
It seemed that it was more important for her to show people what she knew rather than tuning into what people really wanted. She didn’t have to do that. She does have an easier class that is more stretching that would have been more appropriate for this crowd. But she didn’t go there, instead she wanted to show people what she her yoga was about – and her love of it. All well and good, but unfortunately I don’t think she’ll be getting many students to her classes based on that.
Walking out of the class, my sister and I ran into the teacher. We wished her a good day. She made a remark about “wondering if she pushed it too far, but then thought everyone was doing a great job.” Really, what did she see?
It got me wondering about how often do we do that – offer something that others are not ready to receive – want – or need? I suspect more often than not. Especially if are set on “showing people what we know” vs. what they care about. I see this alot when it comes to making public presentations. Speakers are so focused on telling everyone what they know, they miss the audience cues for what they really need to know.
And giving her some slack, perhaps she was nervous and intent on making a good impression. To a fault. I see this happening too when I teach tai chi. A new student comes and my teaching partner likes to blather on about what tai chi is, the history, the this, the that. I find it’s better to drip tidbits of info on people and bring them along slowly rather than shower them with a firehose. Let them experience the wonder of it, not tell them about the wonder. But I’m far from perfect. Just another lesson along the way on this journey…