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Many of the world’s greatest teachers never imagined they would be instructing others. Most begin on a path of self-discovery, and by exploring their own humanity, they find others on a similar spiritual path and the desire to offer guidance and support comes naturally.
Ultimately, you are on this planet to self-realize, and as a human being, you also want to make a difference. Teaching allows you to accomplish both. Doing what you love and serving others is the ultimate Dharma (purpose).
Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced instructor looking for personal development and growth, here are six tips to increase your confidence as a teacher.
1. Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking
One of the most common obstacles teachers face is the fear of public speaking. Envisioning yourself in front of a large audience (or even a small one) can seem terrifying at first. The comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, once joked that people fear public speaking more than dying!
To help conquer this fear, you must take action. Start by teaching one person, and then a small group (perhaps friends and family) and work your way up to a larger group. These baby steps can help you gain confidence and ease anxieties along the way.
2. Immerse Yourself in What You Love
Explore what you love and sign up for a training session or seminar. It doesn’t have to be a lifelong education—even a short course can get you on your way to formulating what you want to share and teach. Work on combining what you love with skills you already have. This is where it’s beneficial to recognize the knowledge and expertise you’ve acquired up to this point in life; it’s always more than you give yourself credit for.
Trust that with time and dedication the information will become part of your DNA. You don’t have to memorize a bunch of facts and recite them verbatim to your students. Know that it takes time to develop a way of delivering the material that is essentially you. Move away from the need for perfection and continually remind yourself of your reason for wanting to teach in the first place—to serve others. This takes the onus off of you having to get it just right.
3. Let Go of Attachments
Take time to process old beliefs that could be holding you back. For example, do you have a belief that you have to do everything perfectly? We all have patterns that hold us back, and now is the time to be honest with yourself. Deep down you know the truth. Once you have identified beliefs that are holding you back, you can replace them with new beliefs that support and even energize you. This is an important part of letting go.
In addition, detach from what you think teaching people should look like. If you believe that once you become a certified instructor you’ll immediately start speaking to large groups, this may be unrealistic. Trust that in the beginning teaching to your friends and family, or even one person, has a ripple effect and each time you are honing your skills. If you’re feeling paralyzed or stuck in any way, this might mean you’re attached to how it should look.
If you do not try, you cannot fail. Not trying may seem safe, but it’s also not being fully alive. If you do not fail, you cannot grow. Remember, it took Thomas Edison more than 1,000 tries to create the light bulb. When you stop growing, you stop truly living. So, continue to try and see yourself growing in ways you never imagined.
4. Embody Who You Want to Be
After completing my first certification course at the Chopra Center, I remember thinking, “I must now step into being a teacher.” I proceeded to perfect my personal introduction. I began to act as if I were already an instructor and, as a result, the Universe brought more opportunities for me to step into this new role. Likewise, what does this look like for you? Start to identify who you want to be and embody it.
Also, keep up with your own practice(s). As a teacher, you must walk the walk. Your students will pay attention to what you do more than what you say. You will teach best from your own experience(s). If you can’t authentically say to someone, “This is what helped me,” you’ll appear disingenuous to your students.
Practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, and practice some more. All great performers practice their set over and over until they have perfected it. The language eventually becomes a part of who you are, not something you have to prepare. The information will always be there, ready to share at a moment’s notice.
5. Give It Away
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and think clients are going to come rolling in, but it takes time to build clientele. Most entrepreneurs understand this hard reality and will offer things for free to get started. With this understanding, begin to consider what you are willing to offer, free of charge. In this way, you will be able to get your ‘practice’ in while still making a difference in the world.
Try offering your time to groups that cannot afford your classes. Know that it will come back to you ten-fold, as this is the Law of Giving and Receiving. When you want more of something, you give it away.
6. Emulate Who You Admire
Who do you admire? Who was your greatest teacher? Begin to emulate the great spiritual masters or anyone you look up to. Ask “What would so-and-so do?” If you do not have anyone you admire, then look to people in history or even celebrities. Keep in mind that any trait or characteristic you find yourself attracted to also exists within you. Nurture these same qualities within yourself and watch them grow.
Lastly, remember that being a teacher is a journey, not a destination. Over time, you may add to your repertoire, expanding what you have to offer, which will always be unique to you. As an instructor, there is fulfillment in being of service and making a positive impact on people. It soon becomes obvious that this important role is a life-long journey. You may stumble along the way, but know that each bump in the road makes you better at what you do and more confident, and will lead to greater rewards down the line.
“Confidence, clarity, and compassion are essential qualities of a teacher.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
Chopra Center Certifications provides the opportunity to get certified as an instructor and teach with the support of a community of Chopra Center Certified Instructors. Deepen your understanding of meditation and Ayurveda as you learn to teach others. Click here to learn more.