Out of the Mouths of Babes_image

Our last IT school class was on Friday and it was bittersweet. Part of me was thankful, but another part was sad to see it end. While I love to complete things, it always leaves an opening to create something new.

Everything was planned; we’d be in Serbia for the final class and I’d even arranged to bring my friend and founder of thehub.hu, David Trayford, to do a special presentation.

We’d moved the classroom online for a number of reasons – number one being we were ready to be back in Budapest. With winter approaching, the idea of staying in our farmhouse was not too appealing. (Here’s a tour, if you haven’t seen it!) While we do have electric heaters, there’s really no way to get the all-glass entryway warm. And we also have indoor plumbing now (thank goodness), though walking from the living room to the bathroom requires going through the hallway, which is similar to going outdoors every time we need to potty (we have dogs, so we call the bathroom the potty). Even so, we decided to be brave soldiers and go to Stara Moravica for Thanksgiving and the last class.

On one condition: we required a backup heating source, because it was common for the power to go out for what seemed like no reason at all when we were there in the summer.

When we bought the house there were two wood burning fireplaces: one that needed to be moved and a beautiful original ceramic fireplace in the master bedroom that needed a new chimney. Well, for some reason somewhere along the restoration project, the chimney that goes through the attic hasn’t been fixed as promised. Needless to say, we didn’t make the journey.

So I thought it would be cool to do a Skype call with the students instead of the live class. I wanted to know what had worked and what didn’t work for them and what was next on their journeys through life. It was a great exercise and the kids gave me valuable feedback. One of the things that surprised me was how thankful they were for the opportunity, because I wasn’t really sure if they’d appreciated what we’d done. But the comment that most surprised me came from a student who said I should have pushed harder; been more demanding.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure I had that kind of permission. I didn’t want to come off as a pushy American. Yes, we can all be pushy… If you question that, just ask anyone who is serving us Americans, like the guy who painted our house and got so frustrated with us because we wanted him to show up and keep his word. Crazy – right? He told us “America is a big place” and we should go back there. Actually, he didn’t tell us – he told Oscar, who works for us. But Will overheard the conversation and understood the word “America”. Oscar didn’t want to translate, but when pressed, he did. When I heard what the painter said, I wasn’t happy. I immediately left the place where we were staying, walked very briskly to our office, collected Oscar, and went to our house and threw everyone out. Not my finest moment, but it got the job back on track.

Speaking of getting back on track…

I was shocked my student was sharing this with me, because he was one of those types that when I pushed, he pushed back with excuses. I’d made that to mean the work just wasn’t a priority for him. But come to find out, what he really wanted was for me to push harder. I missed that sign.

Looking back, I can see what would have made a big difference for him and ultimately a bigger difference for everyone would’ve been to talk less and listen more. This is something I know, but I sometimes forget. It’s always good to get a little reminder.

So if you already know about talking less and listening more, this is your reminder. If you didn’t know, try it. In fact, I think everyone should do a “talk audit” – meaning, really pay attention to how much you’re talking and how much you’re listening. You might be surprised! And just to be clear, I am including the little voice inside your head… you know it – it’s that voice that’s talking while someone else is talking to you.

Let me know your thoughts. I’m listening.