Fear of Failure: Teacher Trainer Edition

We are getting ready to start our third round of teacher training this week at Yoga Pod Waco. As usual, I find myself both nervous and excited with the start of this major undertaking. I am excited to have the chance to share my love of yoga with individuals eager to learn, but it also makes me nervous about making sure I effectively share with them what they need to know in the time we have together. I am excited that we have at least 20 trainees signed up at this point, but I am nervous about involving everyone and the logistics involved with a group that size. And the list could go on. For everything that’s exciting, I can also see a challenge and the potential for failure.

And that “f” word really gets to the heart of what I am most nervous about. While I’ve grown more accustomed to failing to live up to my own (often) unrealistic expectations, I REALLY get stressed about being a failure to someone else. But I’ve noticed some progress in letting go of that fear, too, as I get ready to begin this training. Here’s why:

1.       I am thankful I have a great staff of teacher trainers to work with.

                I am not the only source of information, knowledge and experience the teacher trainees will get to learn from. I love that they will get exposure to other perspectives and approaches to teaching yoga. If I do fail to give them something that will benefit their understanding of yoga, there’s a good chance one of my co-teachers will. Yay teamwork!

2.       I’m ok with what I don’t know.

With my first group of teacher trainers, I felt a very heavy burden to be an “expert” in everything yoga. After all, if I was the trainer, shouldn’t I have all the answers? And if I don’t, won’t they wonder why the heck I’m the one trying to teach them how to teach? Shouldn’t all my classes be darn near close to flawless and life-changing each time I teach? Whoa. Talk about a huge weight on my shoulders.

While I have always considered myself a life-long learner, when I did teacher training, I didn’t want to expose just how much I still needed to know. I felt like I was a good teacher, but was I really ready to train others to teach? Had I not jumped into training teachers when I did, I probably would still be waiting to be ready.  I was forced to learn a lot very fast, and I kept learning as went through training. I am pretty sure I learned more than any of my teacher trainees that first round. But I had to start somewhere, and I thank that gracious group of trainees who were my guinea pigs and endured my flaws and failures along the way. I shared what I knew, and leaned what I didn’t.  We all survived.

3.       I feel (more) confident about what I do know.

Even if I don’t know everything about yoga, I do know something that I am excited to share. I’ve taught over 1,000 hours of yoga in the past two years (and more before that when I didn’t keep track), so at minimum I’ve got some experience to teach about. You really can’t substitute for experience. That goes for teaching regular classes and teacher trainings. While I wish I could be excellent from the start, I know with time I will develop into a better teacher trainer. But for now, I am trying to own the fact that I do have an understanding of yoga and teaching the practice that is worthwhile to share. I see myself as a teacher-learner, and I hope my trainees will, too. I want to guide them to a deeper understanding of yoga, but ultimately, what they learn and get out of the experience I can’t completely control. I can’t force their growth, only nurture it. I don’t want them to come out of training trying to teach like me; I want them to begin to discover who they are as a teacher. My role is to share what I do know to help them in that discovery process.

I think I have come to terms with the idea that the only way I will truly fail my teacher trainees is if I do not try. All the experience, knowledge and perspectives I have on yoga can’t help someone else if I never attempt to share it. So here’s to another shot and letting go of the fear of failing others, and embracing the opportunity to be a part of learning together. I can definitely get excited about that!