Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Are you the doer, or the adviser?

There are two types of people around you, everywhere: the doers, and the advisers.

The doers have done a lot of planning and shopping and organizing before they do what they do.
The advisers just run their mouths because they know a better way to get the task done.

When I was a young teacher, most of us with little experience  had little respect for those folks who were sent to advise us. These were usually not practicing teachers any more; they had hung their chalk, (chalk, the initial public writing instrument) and were now travelling and listing their wisdom on 3x5 cards which they read to us in the audience. Yes, before overhead projectors and computer presentations, speakers read their notes from 3x5 cards they brought to the lectern. Their advice might have been superb, but if the audience had not encountered the circumstances, the advice was lost, flew off the lectern. Worst, their advice was too general, or too idealistic. We kept thinking, this person has never taught in this classroom, with these children.

Later in my career, I too became an adviser. Remembering those initial feelings about advisers, I turned the writing of notes back to the audience. What happened last week in your classroom that you had not encountered before, and what did you need to know to handle that problem? Write that down on a 3x5 and pass it up to the front. These were the notes I used to talk about preparation and follow through.

In my house, and in terms of preparing meals for a company,  I am the doer, my husband the adviser. Whether I need his insights, he jumps right in and states them with confidence. While I can usually listen politely and nod to his desires often enough, around the holidays, when timing and traditions are crucial, I tend to be curt to my adviser in chief. "No, we are not going to make potatoes three different ways just because that's what your mother did when Aunt Carol visited."

The funny part about this conversation is the fact that I need my husband to run errands, move furniture, peel potatoes, and do all sorts of things at the last moment, and I can't listen to his reasons to do or not to do something in these circumstances even though I value his judgement and his logistics skills. Anytime I'm stumped with a dilemma, I can rely on him to simplify the steps.

Just this morning, as we debated when and how to cook the turkey for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast with the family, considering the long distance of 150 miles, the possibility of delay, the possibility of not having time to re-heat the bird and all the other stuff, I wanted to shut him up and walk away. I could handle this, I thought, as the official cook of the family.

Instead, we each used our smart phones and researched the possibilities.
The solution: the turkey is being cooked, carved, and chilled today. Tomorrow, the turkey will travel chilled,  safely to our destination, even with delays. It will go into the oven and be re-heated properly. We moved the dinner later in the day, and provided lots of nibbling upon arrival.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone