There will always be those who work to distinguish your fire.
They've got the hose ready to spray whenever you have a new idea, pose a question, or create. They truly dampen your spirit as they dictate formations to follow with rigidity and little room for voice and choice.
All through our lives we meet people like that, and it's likely that we've been that kind of person from time to time too.
As I think back, the first person in my life that was like that was my high school French teacher. She perseverated about the little things, the tiny details related to speaking and writing French. I could never succeed in her class and dropped French after a couple of years.
Later in life there was the boss at my first job after college. He was a stickler for details. Similar to the French class, that job was short lived, but dissimilar to the French class, I did learn a lot during that rigid work experience--in fact, I use many of those skills that I learned during that one-year period in my professional and personal life today.
There was also the most difficult education course that I ever took. The teacher was very detail oriented and seldom pleased with my work. I worked diligently to pass the course, and remember almost nothing. I liken the lack of retention to the rigidity of the course.
As I look over my life, those three experiences and one or two close to home now are the only rigid experiences I've had in my life. In most experiences, both professional and personal, there's been more flexibility and elasticity--they've been loose-tight learning experiences, and mostly learning experiences that I've enjoyed and retained.
As I think of rigidity and learning, I don't think it's the best way to teach or learn. I am much more a fan of experienced-base, responsive teaching and learning that avails itself to voice and choice. I think this kind of fluid platform for learning connects better to the latest cognitive research. While parameters are important, relationships, sensitivity, connectivity, and responsiveness are more important. When you're learning with passion including both heart and mind, retention, engagement, empowerment, and inspiration occur, and when those critical attributes occur, the learning sticks and develops.
I noticed this in college, and that's why I always chose courses based on the quality and dedication of the professors rather than topic, class size, or course rigor. I found that when I had a passionate professor, I learned more no matter how the course was taught--the professor's passion was contagious, impactful, and inspiring.
So as I think of the topic, "Putting Out Your Fire," I first want to caution myself about putting out others' fires, and instead inspire myself to embrace the passion, ideas, interests, and drive my colleagues and loved ones exhibit. If it's good for others, I want to cheer them on. I also want to make sure I'm always cognizant of the fact that I don't know it all, and many around me have answers and ideas that I've never even thought about. I want to be open to their dedicated voices and choices as they live and love.
Next as I think of those that "put out fires," I will heed their words and think carefully about their halting remarks and dictates. I will listen for the truth in what they say and regard their experience and outlook with respect. I will also, however, respect my own experience, research, passion, and drive since we know ourselves well, and we all have a good idea about the gifts that are ours to give. While I won't disrespect those who extinguish my flame, I'll also not disrespect my own experience, professional training, and direction. Onward.