This is the continuation of the series on respect and how to cultivate it. This is the third part so if you have missed the first two then click here to view them
2. Find a teacher who is fully accomplished in the discipline of self-knowledge and not a person who merely preaches about it
The second way to gather self-knowledge is to find a person who can help to guide you by giving advice and showing demonstrable examples that can be applied in real-time.
A teacher is not solely a person who operates in a learning institution. A real teacher can be found in any area and does not have to be a person who is paid to teach.
The value of a teacher can be understood by the output of the student, therefore any teacher that will get you to produce your desired outcome is worth paying close attention to.
In relation to self-knowledge it is essential to find a teacher who has integrity. There are many who like to preach but do not have the credibility to back up their claims.
Teaching methods can both be direct and indirect in their application. Of the direct would be things such as Instructions and demonstrations. For the indirect methods there would be methods such as fables, stories, metaphors, which could be applied in an indirect way.
The oldest set of instructions that exist in the world is simultaneously the oldest written document of philosophical thought. They are known as the ‘Instruction of Ptahhotep.’
This work dates from the time of the period of the 5th dynasty (around 2800 – 2500 BCE) in the ancient Nile valley civilization of Kemet (Egypt). The work would have been composed in the 3rd millennium BCE almost 5,000 years ago. The fascinating thing is that the principles of justice and respect have not changed since that period, even though there have been many a plethora of cultures and civilisations that have existed since that time.
During the time of Ptahhotep young men and women would be taught how to perform certain disciplines for their society. This would take many years of training in order to become proficient in a particular field.
The instruction from Ptahhotep was intended to provide guidance for people who would take on the role of vizier (high official) after Ptahhotep would have left his position.
Some quotes from his instructions can be seen below.
“A woman with a happy heart brings equilibrium.”
“May your heart never be vain because of what you know. Take counsel from the ignorant as well as the wise…”
“If you are a leader, Take responsibility in/ the matters entrusted to you, And you will accomplish things of note…”
“Do not repeat a slanderous rumour.”
“Punish with principle, teach meaningfully. The act of stopping evil leads to the lasting establishment of virtue.”
This tradition and culture of instruction can be traced back for centuries before Ptahhotep, however the first writings that we have on record are Ptahhotep’s instructions. This tradition would be perpetuated and promulgated out of the African continent into Semitic cultures of western Asia and then throughout the world.
Centres of learning were created and students were required to study under the instruction of master teachers who had years of study and master a number of disciplines.
Each of these successive cultures would address the idea of self-knowledge differently and it would be the quality of the teacher and the cultural environment
The thing to always look for in a teacher is to determine whether they can genuinely help you to achieve your goals.
Some will require payment and others will not accept payment. The vital thing to remember is whether you will be able to achieve something with their help that you could not have done otherwise.
The area of sport is a useful place to see the power of the coach. Sometimes they are also known as managers although managers can be applied to the areas of all organizations through society. I will address the issue of corporate management at another time.
There have been a number of exceptional coaches throughout the areas of sport and here I will briefly touch on 2 of them.
- Sir Alex Ferguson (Football/soccer)
- John Wooden (Basketball)
The purpose of a coach is to simultaneously develop the individual and the team to achieve success.
Sir Alex Ferguson ‘The Master’
Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the greatest and most successful managers of all time and he remained at the top of his sport (football / soccer) for over 20 years. He was the manager of the Manchester United Football club in England, and the fascinating thing about his approach is that he would first emphasise the need for personal discipline even before a ball had ever been kicked.
Ferguson was appointed manager of Manchester United in November 1986. During his 26 years with Manchester United he won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and two UEFA Champions League titles.
Below are some quotes from Sir Alex on his philosophy of leadership and management.
“I like to tell different stories, and use my imagination. But generally, it is about our expectations, their belief in themselves, and their trust in each other.”
“You can’t aspire to be loved, because that isn’t going to happen, nor do you want people to be frightened of you. Stay somewhere in the middle and have them respect and trust and see you as fair.”
“You can’t always come in shouting and screaming. That doesn’t work. No one likes to get criticized. But in the football dressing room, it’s necessary that you point out your players’ mistakes. I do it right after the game. I don’t wait until Monday, I do it, and it’s finished. I’m on to the next match. There is no point in criticizing a player forever.”
“Promise is one thing. Fulfilling that promise is quite another.”
“The experience of defeat, or more particularly the manner in which a leader reacts to it, is an essential part of what makes a winner.”
“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”
“Too many managers talk too much. The two most important words for a player, or for any human being, there is nothing better than hearing “Well done.” And few reprimands are as powerful as silence.”
Alex Ferguson’s methods
For a deeper insight into the philosophy and approach of Ferguson, you can check out his book called ‘Leading’. There is also a significant contribution from Michael Moritz the billionaire investor. It is well worth reading if you are interested in sport, leadership or management of any kind.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book is how Ferguson got the best out of his players. He would both nurture young players with potential from their early teens and work with fully developed players who were at their peak and aim to combine their individual talent into something that the collective team could use.
Alex Ferguson was perceived as a serious person who did not accept any nonsense from anyone. His methods were tough and his players were expected to behave themselves at all times even when they were not on the pitch.
He was known to throw objects at his players and frequently swore at them. One of his methods that he used was known as the ‘hairdryer’ because the force of his shouting was said to move an individual’s hair at such a vigorous force like that of a hairdryer.
Another interesting thing is that Ferguson would treat individual players differently based on their temperament and ability. By doing this he was able to get more out of his players than other people would, and yet for other managers this method would not work.
An important lesson to gather from this is that a coach at the highest level will be able to achieve results in his or her own unique way.
Whether a person agrees with Ferguson’s approach or not, the simple fact is that the results do not lie. He was the greatest football manager in the sport at that level and it will be quite sometime before anyone else gets close to his record of achievement.
Ferguson has also taught his methods and philosophy at the Harvard Business School. To see his book on leading you can see more here - https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Lessons-leadership-legendary-Manchester-ebook/dp/B00UL8GEAQ/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
John Wooden ‘Wizard of Westwood’
John Wooden is remembered as one of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball. Wooden was similar to Ferguson in some ways and in other ways he was the complete opposite. Both were similar in the sense that they insisted on high moral conduct from their players.
Wooden was head coach at the University of California, UCLA Bruins team in Los Angeles. He won ten National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a row. No other team has won more than four in a row.
From 1971 to 1974, UCLA won 88 straight games, an NCAA record that hasn’t come close to being equalled or surpassed. Wooden’s teams also compiled four 30-0 seasons and won 19 conference championships, including eight undefeated Pacific Conference seasons.
Wooden has a detailed theory on leadership and a great deal of it resides within his 15-step pyramid of success and his 12 lessons in leadership.
For an in-depth look at his pyramid of success you can click here to find out more – http://www.coachwooden.com/pyramid-of-success
His 12 lessons in leadership are shown below.
John Wooden’s lessons in leadership
- Good values attract good people
- Love is the most important four-letter word
- Call yourself a teacher
- Emotion is your enemy
- It takes 10 hands to make a basket
- Little things make big things happen
- Make each day your masterpiece
- The carrot is mightier than the stick
- Make greatness attainable by all
- Seek significant change
- Don’t look at the scoreboard
- Adversity is your asset
Wooden cited one incident when two of his best players disobeyed one of his instructions regarding their conduct and as a result he dropped them both for the entire season, and this cost Wooden and his team the chance of winning anything that season. This was the measure of his integrity that he put conduct and respect before short-term victory.
Another thing that Wooden insisted on was that he would not allow any criticism of any player from others on the same team. This was difficult to enforce initially but it produce tremendously successful results.
Another place to find out more about the meticulous methods of John Wooden can be found in the work ‘Great By Choice’ by Jim Collins and Morten T Hansen. To see more of it you can click here – https://www.amazon.com/Great-Choice-Uncertainty-Luck-Why-Despite/dp/0062120999
We see that both John Wooden and Alex Ferguson shared the desire to win although they differed in temperament and style.
This shows that real success can be achieved through any type of personality style as long as the desire to win is there along with the necessary determination to pay the price to succeed.
A truly great teacher can also be called an educator. The concept of education is often misunderstood. Many believe that an education consists of taking information in from outside. The truth is that education literally means to bring out from within. The Latin root of the word is educere, which means to ‘lead out.’
Therefore a true master teacher is not a person who will give you all the answers and secrets, they will instead help you to bring the best out of what is already inside of you.
Some people say that seeing is believing, while others believe in things that they cannot see empirically. For both they use what are known as convincer strategies to shape their beliefs. Some can be taught by seeing a demonstration in person and others could see a demonstration from a video tutorial or vivid example.
The example of the British athlete Roger Bannister is a perfect example of how the self-image of a person can be changed by seeing a demonstration of something that many believed was impossible.
In May 1954 Roger Bannister ran a mile in under 4 minutes (3:59.4) that broke the world record. Until that point many people believed that it was an impossible record to break.
As I write today literally thousands of runners have broken the 4-minute mile barrier.
A question to ask is how can that many people do this now when people before could not for hundreds of years?
The obvious answer is that when a person knows that something is possible then their perception of reality adjusts to it.
At the same time the visionary does not need external validation for their ideals and goals, they see it within their own consciousness and then are able to manifest it in the corporeal world.
This is probably the highest level of thinking that anyone can achieve; this is the ability to be able to create your world through your thoughts and actions.
There is more to be said about this, for now it is enough to say that if you want to achieve anything in life of value then you must be able to manifest from within before it will appear in your external reality.
I will address the indirect methods of teaching in a later segment.