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The Three Types of Teachers, Part 3

Finally, but far from the last word on this subject, is teacher number 3, the type of teacher that loves to see you soar. These teachers are a rare breed, but they do exist.

This teacher not only wants to see you soar, but they place no limits on your growth and achievement. Your achievement becomes a joy to them, the same way a parent feels joy when their child learns a new skill. It doesn’t matter if you’re achieving past them or just learning how to walk.

Why is this type of teacher okay with your growth when others are not? First, he is comfortable with who he is. He doesn’t need or want to be better than you. Teaching is about your growth, not about competition. His goal is to be the best he can be for himself, and part of that self image and self esteem is helping others do the best that THEY can be, regardless of what happens to him personally.

He knows a secret. This secret is a by-product of his work with others to this degree. Remember, he knows it is a by-product, not a direct result. The by-product is that HE GETS FED. He gets fed first by the feeling that true giving can make someone feel. Second, from this magical place, he gets his cup filled. He not only feels good for others, he gets a wonderful feeling about how his contributions towards your growth. And then, he gets fed: he gets knew knowledge from this place of being a true teacher.

None of us are a completed work. We’re all a work in progress, all on our way someplace other than here. Nothing is static, we are all change. A teacher that is open to new knowledge from his students continues to grow. Contrast with the previous two teacher types that have at their core a need for constancy and superiority. They’re also on their way someplace else… but it isn’t growth oriented.

I have two teachers that I continue to work with that are in the 3rd category. I have one I think is in the middle or second category, and one who recently slipped into the first category.

Yes, they move about. And so do I, seeking knowledge wherever it is appropriate.

Why is the teacher who is in the second category still my teacher? Because I can separate out what we talked about in the last post. I can still find and appreciate knowledge and understand from his teachings, and I can subtract out what I know when I perceive his faults or find parts of him that I don’t want to integrate into who I am.

I think that once you separate out your teacher from his ethics or morals and look at the patterns that are useful to you, you can keep a great friendship. None of us are perfect. The category 3 teachers are rare.

The problem with the level 1 type of teacher. I find that the information and knowledge they have to share does not balance with the pull of the black hole of negative behavior. I think that the effort required to be involved, even as a friend, with the type of person who acts out in those ways far outweighs any type of benefit you might gain from the information. I have made a commitment to pull away from people who act out in those ways right away and spend time in contemplative prayer for some kind of revelation to come to them about how their actions affect other people.

My recent teacher who went that way in my experience still has a chance, but it won’t be easy. I was told by many people and had direct inspiration as I tried to reveal this to him. He quickly went in the opposite direction. It was difficult to watch someone I loved go this route.

At this point, I chose to pull myself away for 2 reasons. First, I cannot afford the negative pull in my life. Second, I want to keep distance as my presence and message seems to give him more of a reason to go farther into the dark side. And I chose not to have my brother fall any further.

I would love to see him excel again, even though he sought to keep me down.

So, let’s expand this a little more for next time.

Teachers… this can mean a friend, boss, mother, father, sister, brother. It can mean YOU. It can also mean your concept of spirit, the universe or God as you understand and experience it.

Go back and read all of these entries again while putting different folks from your life into the different roles. I promise that if you do this work, you will transform how you think about yourself, your community, and even spirituality.

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  1. Mark,
    What an interesting set of blogs. You certainly have given this a lot of thought. It is interesting that you are bringing forward this information at this time. Look at the world. So many of our leaders are in the group #1 catagory. We need to be aware of that. You are a rising “star” and have a lot to share. You did not give yourself credit for your success because you were not the star of the trip. Now claim you success you earned it. Build on it. There are a lot of people who would like your type of information. Remember, to be the best Mark Ryan that you can be.

  2. Mark,

    I am profoundly moved by your post.

    All I ask, the Divine each morning when I wake up is to allow me to serve my clients/students in the highest and best way possible.

    I recognize the number of shortcomings that I have as a human being and constantly ask to be released from all of that stuff and for it not to get in the way of what I love to do.

    I feel best when my students soar, and grow. I want every single person who I touch to know that they ARE a star and make up such an important part of the bigger picture.

    I have been called naive, a hopeless idealist, Champion Idealist as if it were a “bad thing”, but it feels SO RIGHT to me…

    The “one” thing I know in my heart and soul is that I am here to give, to help others grow and to realize their full potential.

    We each have our own unique “mojo” so It’s hard to understand how keeping someone else down would benefit us. But I know some teachers do.

    I have been fortunate that a some of my greatest mentors have been incredibly generous. And I have also experienced the bitter dissapointment by someone that I greatly loved and respected that has lost his way.

    All I ask the Divine is to continue to mold me into the person I was meant to become, by realizing my full potential on this earthly plane. To help me reach as many people as I can in the most significant way, and to only leave love inspiration and hope where I go… And to not let my big fat ego get in the way!

    That’s it..

    Thank you for this post.. I love you and admire your genius and passion! You know you are one of my mentors! I love your work.. Keep it up!

    Love and Blessings,

  3. While I think we need to recognize that everyone we encounter can be a teacher to us, I tend to give extra scrutiny to those who call themselves teachers. Those who assume the role of teachers – true teachers, per your number 3 – perceive themselves as students who are charged with the responsibility of helping their fellow students. They are not trapped in the need for the ego-based arrogance that places them above their “students,” but recognize that each student is their equal.

    Just as a parent, at the moment of their child’s birth, casts aside their own dreams to wish for their child to surpass those dreams, so does a true teacher revel in the experience of seeing a student rise above the teacher’s own potential. Sadly, too many who consider themselves teachers assume the role for their own self-aggrandizement, rather than for the betterment of their charges.

    They are easy to identify by their arrogance, their constant claims (some subtle, some obvious) that they have reached a level to which their students must aspire, and their constant need for tokens to reinforce their self-image. While I feel genuine compassion for anyone who follows a destructive path, that compassion is strained by such teachers’ efforts to limit the evolvement of their students in order to overcome their own fears and shame, and to bolster their own obsession with acquiring more things.

    I feel fortunate to have enjoyed the tutelage of a true teacher, and to have clearly observed the behavior of others who fit your number 3. The one left me both hopeful and humbled, while the other left me cynical. My hope is that the wisdom of the first might prove the stronger in the larger world, and that the others might one day find the strength and integrity to assume the role of true stewards. But they can only rise to that noble task when they realize that a teacher is bound to his or her students, and that no amount of wealth, fame, or adulation can satisfy the cravings of ego. Only a constant, upward march, hand in hand with equals on a shared journey, can lead one to a true sense of peace. The hopeful and humbled part of me wants to believe that peace is the goal we all seek, while the more cynical part of me is reinforced by seeing some “teachers” constant parade of cynical behavior.

    Ultimately, I wish these people well, but in the interim, I wish them exposed. And that’s MY task to overcome.

  4. Correction: Last paragraph should begin, “I feel fortunate to have enjoyed the tutelage of a true teacher, and to have clearly observed the behavior of others who fit your number 1.”

    One day, I might learn not to pontificate before the coffee kicks in! 🙂

  5. Mark, it took me some time to get through all of this. You should write a book! But I feel like I have a good sense of what you’re talking about. Great job, great insights. Thank you for sharing.

    ~ T

  6. Mark,
    Thank you for providing this buffet of ‘food for thought’. I think it is much needed. Also, thanks to everyone else who posted comments – thoughtful and insightful.

  7. It’s convienient that you put them in levels… Makes it easier to walk away from situations. Thanks for your leadership. You should do a cool podcast and have loyal fans and stuff=-)

  8. Thanks again Mark for the insights. I have seen those three levels played out on jobs,in families and also in relationships.
    The people who we allow into our lives can either bring out the best or the worst in us.As the authors of our lives we can always write out the characters who do not mean us any good.

  9. Thank you Mark for sharing your useful perspective. I’ve had teachers that fit in all three of the catagories you have distinguished. I am curious about the teachers you find useful, if you would care to share. I realize that a good teacher for one person may not be the best for another. However I respect your judgement, your filter, and good teachers are hard to find.

  10. Mark I love these posts. I have been incredibly fortunate in finding many teachers in the third category. A few in the second category and of course a couple in the first category. The interesting aspect that I’ve noticed is you can learn from any of them as long as the focus remains on yourself.

    I’ve discovered the third type of teacher does good not just for the good of others, he helps others because of the growth he or she receives.

    As any good coach knows, you have to clear the path in yourself to truly help another through their struggles. I believe this is the reward for being the third type of teacher. That immense growth that is received by boldly facing the limitations you see in others reflected in yourself.

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