He went to write a book called Yes Man, which was Hollywoodified (that's my word but you can use it...) into a movie staring Jim Carrey, who I definitely did not go to university with. Anyway, back to me. My decision, which was in no way at all influenced by either the book or the film (I regret mentioning them now, to be honest) was to say yes. To everything. Within reason.
|Taken from http://bit.ly/JvESrw|
I'm talking professionally here. You see, I don't believe in luck. I'm a rationalist, I believe that science is our ticket to a golden future and that our destiny lies in our own hands. Sure, sometimes circumstance and coincidence can wreck our plans, but it's not luck, because it doesn't exist.
If you've read this blog in the past or know me personally, you know that I became an EFL teacher because I moved to Brazil and didn't really have any other alternative job options. So I guess you would think that I was lucky because I only had one option and I loved it? I politely disagree. It's a coincidence that the one job I could do is also one I love. And how did this coincidence come about? Because I moved from London to Brasilia. I made the coincidence possible because I took a risk and went for it.
Once I realised how this sequence of events had occurred, it changed how I see the world and I made my decision to say yes to everything that I reasonably could (you have to know your limitations). And what has happened since then? Let me give you an example...
At the IATEFL conference in March, ELTchat hosted a symposium. I, me, James Taylor, theteacherjames, was featured in the first three talks. I don't tell you this to show off, really, but because it illustrates my point. Marisa Constantinides mentioned me because I am the producer and presenter of the ELTchat podcast, something I volunteered for after seeing a request on Twitter, despite having never made a podcast before. With my media background, I was confident I could learn what was required of me in order to put a podcast together, so I said yes and it's been great fun so far.
In the second talk, Shaun Wilden showed a video that I made for him on his subject hashtagging. I don't consider myself to be particularly knowledgeable on the topic, but I racked my brains and come up with something I hoped would be useful. Why? Because he needed a hand and why not? It took 5 minutes of my time and was helpful to him.
Finally, Sharon Hartle used my summary of an ELTchat from last year as an example in her talk. Coincidentally (not luckily!), this was Sharon's first ever ELTchat and included her first ever tweet. My summary was used because I volunteered to do it after what had been a feisty and fascinating chat. This was my first ever ELTchat summary, and I volunteered because it was a subject I'm passionate about and I wanted to contribute to the community that was giving me a lot. Somebody asked, and I said yes.
I could go into more details, but what it comes down to is that as well as the above, I have been to conferences in Switzerland and France, my writing has been featured in an ELT journal for the first time, I have reviewed books, I have spoken to Petra Pointner and her class via Skype, I've met two great Belgian teachers, I've given my first presentation, I’ve been featured on blogs, and more. All through saying yes.
Am I richer as a result? Well that depends on how you define richer. In monetary terms, no, categorically no (those conferences are expensive!). However, I prefer to look at it in non-monetary terms. I've met great people, been involved with fun projects, improved my skills and I hope become a better person. In that sense, I'm the richest man in ELT.
So can you do the same? Of course you can! To kick you off, I'm going to ask you some questions and you can begin by saying yes to a few...
1) Will you start blogging about teaching?
2) Will you get involved in ELTchat whenever you can?
3) When someone asks for help on Twitter or Facebook, will you help them?
4) Will you help your colleagues, even though they might not help you back?
5) Will you start using Twitter and Facebook for your professional development?
6) If someone asks you specifically to help them, will you say yes even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone?
7) Will you start to read more ELT blogs?
8) Will you tackle that pile of methodology books you've been meaning to read?
9) Will you ask for help from your PLN and not feel discouraged if you don’t get the result you were hoping for?
10) Will you start to say yes more often?
That should get you going! Be sure to let me know how it goes.
Some people have posted relevant links in the comments which I thought I’d share with you here above the line:
Cecilia Lemos shared the fascinating story of Profeta Gentileza (Prophet Kindness), who has painted the phrase “Kindness generates kindness” around Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Adam Simpson shared the following TED talk on the power of yes:
And here's a quote I saw on the Facebook page of the School of Life that seemed relevant: