I have been teaching since we recorded music from records (some of you may need to Google that) onto cassette tapes (and that too). I have been teaching since thong leotards and flesh-colored tights were a thing (maybe don’t Google that). And I’ve been teaching since microphones were NOT a thing, and screaming over the music earned me nodules on my vocal cords, and a Demi Moore-like raspy voice. So… needless to say, it’s been decades!
When I was younger, if you’d asked me why I loved teaching, I’d say, among many things, because it was incredibly social. I grew up with my “gym friends,” and honestly, I loved getting paid to keep fit. I was passionate about music… passionate about exercise… and I was passionate about educating. Of course, I didn’t know then that my “dedicated hobby” of instructing would become an integral part of my life and career.
Yet here we are, and my love for teaching has never waned over the years. Yet the reasons I love it have changed. In fact, I would say that as I have grown up, I have valued it even more. Honestly, I don’t always look forward to exercising, (Does anyone, always?!) but I do always look forward to teaching. And I truly believe that my teaching longevity has come about because I have an intentional “WHY” for doing it, which has rightfully evolved alongside my motives for exercising.
What’s With WHY?
Simon Sinek, legendary thought leader and author, proposes that everyone should have their own personal “WHY” statement. Your WHY statement is a sentence that clearly expresses your unique contribution and the difference you want to make in the world. He believes that every person knows what it is they do, that some of us know how we do it, but very few of us have ever really taken the time to think about why we do what we do. Simon believes that when we are clear on our WHY, it gives us the energy and impetus to keep doing it… to keep moving forward. And it gets us through when times get tough!
A WHY statement for teaching should finish sentences like, “I teach on a Saturday at MOSSA HQ because…” or “I go the extra mile to learn the new releases because…” or “I get up at 5am to teach at 6am because…”. (Side note… It is important to understand that “making money” is not a WHY. According to Simon, “revenues, profits, salaries and other monetary measurements are simply results of what we do.”)
My Modern Day WHY
Today, I am extremely clear on my why. I teach because I love being a catalyst for change, positively impacting people’s lives through exercise and education. My mission is to help people actively age to increase their health span and it is my way to give back.
I have some people who have attended my classes and entrusted me with their fitness and health for almost 20 years. These people are not just my participants; they are my friends. They are part of the social fabric of my life… and if I am honest, I hope that they will trust me for another 20 years.
My plan is to always teach. Maybe I won’t grace the screen for much longer… but I truly believe that I can remain relevant, and hopefully inspiring, to someone. I believe in behavioral spread or the notion that people tend to become more like their social relationships over time. So, I plan on surrounding myself with people who are equally invested in their health span.
I hope that you see that instructing is more than, “getting paid to keep fit.” When I hear the MOSSA team talk about their why, it runs the gamut from, “helping my community lead healthy lifestyles” to “creating the feeling of team that I miss after graduating college” to “wanting to change someone else’s life the way mine was changed.”
Let’s Create Your WHY
The process of finding your own unique, “why do I teach” statement is beneficial for many scenarios. Maybe you have considered becoming an instructor, and you want to be in it for the right reasons, unique to you. Or maybe you are an instructor, but you’re feeling a little less motivated. Maybe you want to gain or regain focus. Maybe you want to set goals and a “why do I teach” statement will help you determine if you are in alignment with them.
Here’s a first step: write down a few reasons why you love teaching, or why it looks like something you’d love. Revisit it tomorrow, and let it evolve in both the short- and long-term. I think you’ll be amazed at how inspired you’ll feel with your why in sight, even if – like all of us – it’s a work in progress.
Learn about becoming an instructor (no experience needed) with the Join the Movement Video Series – our ongoing effort to develop amazing, inspiring, energetic, empathetic instructors and get more people moving. Start by watching a 4-minute video to see if your “maybe…?” could become a yes, and we hope you’ll join our much needed – now more than ever – mission to inspire people to move.