A Whackadoodle discussion in which my student challenges me to teach her about A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating the River of Life.
“I think that we need to start talking more about your rules, and less about my lessons.”
“Well, isn’t the point of our website to get people interested in your books?”
“I suppose so.”
“So, we need to be talking about them,” she declared. “For instance, in your first book, you make a big point of readers taking one rule at a time, giving it one week’s strict attention, and leaving the rest of the rules to ordinary chance. Why that emphasis, and why have you not included that advice in your later books?”
“Why do people always ask multiple questions at once, and then expect easy answers?”
“Fine,” she clicked the pen in her hand. “Why did you initially ask your readers to take one rule at a time, leaving the rest to ordinarily chance?”
“Because I knew that learning fourteen rules at once would be too overwhelming, and because it takes time and repetition to understand any of them fully,” I blurted out, then looked at her face and continued more softly. “I’d read about Benjamin Franklin’s thirteen ideals, and his technique felt a lot like the way I’d learned my own rules. I’d teach the same class every fourteen weeks, but each time I taught the class, I would discover something new until the rules were so much more than what I’d originally been taught. They had deepened. They were more about what my classes and I had learned.”
“And that was when you decided to write your own book,” she said suddenly. “You wanted to write about what you had learned?”
“Pretty much,” I admitted. “Plus, it didn’t hurt that I’d noticed how well the rules worked in real life. How often my student’s attitudes were transformed.” I thought back, “And it wasn’t just my students who transformed. Those rules transformed me. I became stronger, more confident, more organized, more focused, more understanding, more everything. Those rules changed my life.”
“So why have you stopped including Benjamin Franklin’s advice?”
“Because I joined the real world where people don’t always have the luxury of a fourteen week structure. People need to learn at their own pace and in their own way.”
“Rule Seven, right,” she lit up suddenly. “The Power of Process and Growth.”
“Yeah,” I admitted with a small smile. “Rule Seven.”
“But you still think it’s a good way to really learn your rules?”
“Daily, weekly, monthly,” I shook my head. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can’t really understand the rules if you only read the book once.”
“Because you’re gonna read it once, and think, ‘Oh I get it,’ then you’re gonna forget all about it as you go back to your daily routine. People’s habits are too strong, and these rules only make a difference if you can incorporate them into your daily choices.”
“So, they only make a difference if I can make them into a habit.”
“And habits are only created through repetition.”
“Right again,” I agreed.
“So let’s do it,” she declared.
“Make them a habit,” she continued. “You said these rules transformed your life–made you stronger, more confident, more everything. Well, I want that too,” she said. “I propose that you take me through the rules the way you used to take your your classes. That way, we both get what we want.”
“And what do we both want?” I asked, grinning.
“I get my own private ‘river of life guide’, and you get people interested in your books.”
“What about your school work?”
“We can still do that, but I want to do this as well.”
“And I suppose that I don’t have a choice.”
“Not if I start asking questions about your rules every week,” she smiled. “One thing that I know about you. You can’t resist answering a question.”
“Even when I am not sure of the answer,” I agreed. “It’s one of the faults I am working on.”
“We can work on our faults together,” she concluded gleefully. “I suggest that we begin with rule one next week. Maybe we should give it it’s own name. A title that people will know to search for and follow.” she mumbled to herself as she began to pack her books. “I’m thinking, Navigating a Whackadoodle World: Rule One. Or maybe Episode One? Lesson One? I’ll think about it and let you know. Of course, we can always provide links from one lesson to another. That might work even better. I guess we will have to see how it goes.”
I watched her with narrowed eyes. “I should never have taught you the principles of persuasion and influence,” I told her.
“Too late,” she called merrily as she headed out the door.
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- Navigating Life in a Whackadoodle World
- Finding Sense in a Whackadoodle World
- Teaching Logic in a Whackadoodle World
- Navigating Life Through Turbulent Tides
- A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating Life