5 Pieces of Essential Life Advice From Seniors

It’s hard to feel a sweeping sense of perspective when you’re stuck in traffic, or feeling buried by work, or overwhelmed by family demands. But those are exactly the moments when some words of wisdom from your elders — the people who’ve been there, like the ones below — can come in handy.

Each of these insights comes from a conversation conducted during the Great Thanksgiving Listen, an annual initiative from TED Prize winner Dave Isay and his team at StoryCorps that asks people to interview an older family member or friend during the US holiday weekend. By participating, you could unlock new stories about your family or gain a different perspective on historical events, while ensuring your loved one’s story is preserved in the StoryCorps Archive at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. And you might just hear a piece of useful advice that will get you through a difficult moment.

Think of hard times like bad weather — they too will pass.

Arden Fleming, 15, calls her grandmother Agneta Vulliet her “biggest role model.” Vulliet, the daughter of French immigrants, grew up in New York City, and she says she first learned about independence when she went to boarding school. Vulliet left school before graduation to get married, and ended up getting her high school degree at night school — while raising two kids. She studied art in college, where a professor was impressed with her determination and recommended her for a scholarship. Toward the end of their interview, recorded in October 2017 in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Fleming asked her grandmother for advice.

“What I want you to know and keep in mind is that your 20s are very turbulent and that it does get better,” Vulliet says. “You want so much for yourself, you have such expectations, you have so many wishes to succeed, and there’s a lot of anxiety that goes with how all that will take shape. I never want you to get carried away with how hard it seems.” She adds, “Growing up is a lot like the weather. Every time you hit the big storms that seem like they’re going to snow you under, it will change and get better — and the sun will come out.”

Draw inspiration from all the people you meet.

Bill Janz traveled the world as a journalist, and wrote a column for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about ordinary people who’d shown remarkable courage. In a 2015 interview with his 14-year-old grandson, Jasper Kashou in Freedonia, Wisconsin, the now-retired Janz shared memorable stories from his days as a reporter — of almost falling off an elephant into tall grass where a tiger was hiding while in India, and of crawling on his belly to avoid sniper fire in Croatia during the Bosnian War.

But when Kashou asked him about the person who’d impacted him the most, Janz spoke of someone closer to home. “A boy named Eddy helped me see a little bit about what life is all about,” says Janz. Eddy was a 10-year-old he’d written about whose leg was amputated due to cancer. “No matter what happened to him, he never gave up,” he recalls. “I called Eddy once at home, and the phone rang and rang and rang. Finally, he picked up the phone.

I said, ‘Eddy. I was just about to hang up. Where were you?’ And he said, ‘Bill, I was in another room. My crutches weren’t near, so I crawled to the phone.’” Janz often finds himself thinking about that conversation. “He was only a young man, but he was teaching an old man to never give up,” Janz said. “I sometimes tend to give up and go do something else, and [he helps me] remember not to do that.”

Love your work — for the salary and for the people.

Bennie Stewart, 80, got his first job at age 7 — he’d run errands for his neighbors and get paid in chicken eggs. In a 2015 interview with grandaughter Vanyce Grant, 17, in Chicago, he talked through his many jobs. Stewart chopped cotton for $3 a day in 115 degree heat; bused dishes; cleaned buildings as a janitor; sold insurance; and eventually found his passion as a social worker and, later, as a pastor.

Grant asked his grandfather about what led him to these different occupations. “I love talking to people,” Stewart says. “I’ve been told I have the gift of gab, so I can talk and I can grasp things real fast. I always took pride in being able to listen to instructions and pick them up quick.” What lessons did he learn from his work experience? “It taught me that I can have something of my own and provide for my family and get some of the things in life that I couldn’t,” he says.

These themes echo those in an interview that Torri Noakes, 16, recorded with her grandmother Evelyn Trouser, 59, in 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Trouser worked in auto factories, first on the line and then as a welder. “My advice to everybody in my family: learn to take care of yourself. Don’t depend on anyone to provide you with anything,” Trouser says. She refuted any notion that her jobs were dreary. “I used to love going to work,” she said. “It’s the people you’re with that makes a job fun or not. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the people you’re with that make things different.”

Find mentors who can guide you and challenge you.

Allen Ebert, 73, reminisced about his working days in an interview with grandson Isaiah Ebert, 15, also recorded in 2016 in Flint. Ebert first worked as a welder in an auto factory when he was young and said the experience helped him once he entered medical school. “If you understand how something works, when it breaks you know what to look for and how to fix it,” he said. “Even the body is mechanical.”

When Ebert spoke about his experiences as a doctor, he impressed one thing upon his grandson: look for mentors. “The stuff you’re doing right now in school, you’re learning from people who know something you don’t know. Continue that throughout your life,” he says.

To find mentors, you should look beyond your bosses and teachers. “Just develop relationships with people whom you can observe, even from a distance, and see how they accomplish things,” Ebert says. “The way I look at it: in life, we probably make 95 percent good decisions and about 5 percent messed-up decisions. A large part of our lives as adults is fixing the mess of those few wrong decisions, and you can minimize them by just having people in your life who will challenge you and make you think twice, who will say, ‘Well, that doesn’t sound right to me.’”

Make the most of less.

According to StoryCorps, many people use the Great Thanksgiving Listen as a time to ask about family recipes. Along with step-by-step instructions, they receive a slice of family history, as well as life advice.

Some of the stories highlight one of the secrets to a life well-lived: learning to make the most of what you have. Kiefer Inson, 28, talked to his grandmother Patricia Smith, 80, about her classic tuna noodle casserole made with canned tuna. “When I was 18, I was married and had a child and did not have an outside job, so I’d go to the library, bring home cookbooks, and try the recipes,” Smith says. “Back then, we were on a very limited budget.

A pound of fish cost 69 cents, so I learned to cook a lot of things with that.” Jaxton Bloemhard, 16, interviewed his mother, Bethany Bloemhard, 38, about Ukranian pierogies. She told him how her own grandmother would make hundreds at a time. “She’d tell stories about how they kept the Ukranian people alive,” says Bethany Bloemhard. “The Ukrainians grew potatoes like nobody’s business, and as long as you had flour, water and some oil, you could make the dough.”

Other stories point to the need to keep trying until you succeed. June Maggard, 87, spoke to her granddaughter Emily Sprouse, 33, about the recipe book that she’s kept for 30 years. “People say they can’t make bread or biscuits, or anything really, but you just have to learn the feel,” Maggard says. “That comes by doing.”

Learn more about participating in the Great Thanksgiving Listen.

For more on what we get when we listen to people’s stories, watch Dave Isay’s TED Prize talk.

By: Kate Torgovnick May

Source: 5 Pieces of Essential Life Advice From Seniors

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5 Ways to Learn New Skills Effectively

Learning a new skill can be one of the most satisfying things you can do to grow. Learning a new skill is not just a financially smart decision, but it is also good for your mental health. When you learn new skills, you feel more powerful. New neural connections are formed in your brain when you learn something new. The best way to change your life is to change your mind. And learning new skills is the best way to change your mind, literally.

When the normal routine of life makes your life dull, having entertainment alone is not enough to recharge yourself. Entertainment can be good for a weekend — but if you do not learn anything new for years, you will start hating your work.

The traditional system of education expects us to finish school and college and then work for the rest of our lives. That strategy might have worked 30 years back as the world was slowly moving towards the information age. It is not going to work anymore. To thrive in this day and age, learning has to become a habit and continuous up-gradation of skills is required to stay relevant and competitive.

One of the biggest challenges in learning after school and college is that the learning journey becomes lonely. If you are trying to learn from a book or an online course with a set of video tutorials, your learning can become quite stressful. Students learn best when they are energetic and happy. And the only way to feel energetic and happy during your learning journey is to be part of a community that has the same learning goals as yours.

1. Sign up for a cohort-based online course

Many online courses nowadays are cohort-based, and cohort-based online courses usually have a community around them. Being part of a community can impact your learning journey in very subtle ways that are not obvious. Remember, you are the average of the five people around you.

If you are part of a learning community where you see other students have similar goals such as yours and if you see that they are making progress with their professional journey, you are highly likely to grow along with them. You will have a positive pressure to achieve results.

Related: Why Remote Learning is an Avenue That is Worth Exploring

2. Sign up for a mastermind program

After the completion of the online course, you can think about becoming part of a mastermind community where the learning journey continues beyond the course duration. A mastermind community is usually led by a mentor, and you will have the best of the best students as part of the community.

Mastermind community memberships usually come at a premium, but it is worth the premium because the ideas that you get from the community for your career and business will be well worth the price.

3. Start blogging about what you’ve learned

To make sure that you do not forget what you learn, take notes and write about what you have learned in your blog. Writing organizes your thought process and it is one of the best ways to remember.

If you write in a public blog, you can also build your brand at the same time and may even start having some subscribers who want to copy your notes. A lot of digital mentors have built their following because they started taking their notes in public.

Related: 4 Tips for Finding Your Profitable Blogging Niche

4. Implement your learning

You also have to make sure that you implement what you learn. Implementation is very important because when you implement your leaningsconcepts

perspectives

onlinecourses

and get results, you are going to have validated learning. Validating what you have learned will make sure that the concepts you are trying to learn will go from information to understanding.

Once you understand something new, you will feel powerful and your perspective will expand. Once your perspective has expanded to new horizons, you will never be able to get back to your original state of thinking.

Also, implementing what you have learned gives you a project in hand. You get hired for what you can do, not what you know. Online course certificates usually prove that the student knows something, but not that they can do something. When you do a project, the project proves that you can do something. And who knows — the project can become a side hustle and may even become a business someday.

5. Become a digital mentor and teach

And finally, start teaching what you have learned to your followers. If you are already blogging and blogging about what you know, you will have an audience. Create a smaller mastermind group where you are the mentor and help your students. This will mostly happen online. You are effectively becoming a digital mentor for your students. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn, because it forces you to simplify the concepts you already have in your mind.

Related: How VR Will Accelerate Talent Learning and Development

Deepak Kanakaraju

By: Deepak Kanakaraju / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Source: 5 Ways to Learn New Skills Effectively

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How to Become and Remain a Transformational Teacher – David Cutler

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However talented, no one is a natural-born teacher. Honing the craft takes significant care and effort, not just by the individual, but also by the school at large. Though experience does matter, it matters only to the extent that a teacher — regardless of how long he or she has been in the classroom — commits to continued professional development to refresh his or her status as a transformational teacher.

Along those lines, even after a decade in the classroom, I don’t claim to be beyond criticism — not in the least. Still, I wish to offer some advice on constantly striving toward perfection, however elusive that goal will always remain.

Constantly Share Best Practices

As a first step, work toward recognizing that, no matter how long you’ve been in the classroom, there will always be someone else who’s more effective at a certain facet of teaching. When I was a first-year teacher, a veteran colleague inquired how I’d engaged such strong student interest in the American Revolution, something that he’d struggled with achieving.

I shared my lesson plan, which culminated in a formal debate about whether the colonists had acted justly in rebelling against British rule. Moving forward, I felt more confident and comfortable about asking that colleague for help with providing quality written feedback, which he excelled at doing.

Find a Trusted Mentor

No matter how much experience you have, it’s crucial to find and rely on a trusted confidant. As a new teacher, I spent countless hours chatting with colleagues about best practices and where I feared that I might have fallen short. Not once did they pass judgment on me, or suggest that whatever I had done (or failed to do, in certain cases) was beyond repair.

Instead, they offered thoughtful advice on how I might do things differently. No matter the subject, I value hearing fresh perspectives from new and veteran teachers about becoming even better at my job. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas.

Commit to Classroom Observations

I do my best to observe other teachers in action. This year, I benefited from watching a colleague inject humor into his English classroom to cultivate a more relaxed but effective learning environment. In turn, I tried to strike a similar balance in my history classroom, which helped students feel less afraid of sharing ideas and learning from mistakes.

I’m equally grateful for observing a colleague teach French to students whom I also instruct. She possesses a gentle firmness that learners respond to, but more importantly, students know that she cares about them — and they don’t want to let their teacher or themselves down.

Change Things Up

I also observe other teachers to see how they change things up, especially when I get too comfortable in a routine. It’s certainly easier to teach the same books and content each year, but it’s also incredibly boring, which can lead to burnout. This summer, I’m working to revamp some of my American history curriculum to fall more in step with what students are learning and doing in their American literature class.

For example, when juniors are studying the Cold War in my class, they’ll be reading Alan Moore’s Watchmen in their English class — an award-winning graphic novel highlighting many Cold War-era fears and tensions. For both classes, students will complete a yet-to-be-determined project to showcase their understanding.

Model the Usefulness of What You Teach

In line with changing things up, I’m always looking for new ways to model the usefulness of what I teach. More than ever, I find that students want to know how they can apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world. In American history, I continue to de-emphasize rote memorization in favor of activities requiring clear, analytical thinking — an essential tool for whatever students end up pursuing in college or as a career.

On most assessments, I allow students to bring a notecard. It seems less important in the age of Google to assess how much students know. Instead, I’m significantly more concerned with how much sense they can make of all this information so readily available to them. In all of my classes, I also make it clear that knowing how to write well will play a significant role in their future success.

Caring Beyond What You Teach

To motivate my students toward success, I strive to show that I care about them beyond the classroom. I do my best to chaperone trips, watch sporting events, and attend plays and other student-run productions. I advise the Model United Nations Club, which allows me to share my passion for diplomacy and fostering change.

I also coach cross-country to help students see that I value maintaining a healthy body just as much as developing an inquisitive mind. The most transformational teachers that I know have a deep understanding of how their role transcends far beyond any subject that they’re teaching. Such teachers have the most lasting impact on their students long after graduation.

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