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How teaching a workshop in a monastery in Spain transformed my life and business
Mastery Den, Tuesday Edition, 4-min read.
Today's edition is sponsored by Taylin Simmonds.
This is a nudge to one of my good friend's newly launched cohorts - Digital Identity.
I'm affiliate promoting it because I believe in his teaching and he has a proven background with tens of thousands earned monthly. He will show you how to build an online brand to over six figures within 6-12 months.
I'll also be giving one of the guest classes on authentic writing and joining much of the cohort too.
It's not cheap, but you will learn everything you need to know about making that money back fast in a great community.
Back to the main newsletter:
Several years ago, I was asked to give a workshop to digital illustrators at a design festival in Valladolid, Spain.
My heart jumped when I received the email because I'd never done anything like that before, and I hated speaking in public.
They also wanted me to do a workshop on 'illustrated maps.'
I guess that made sense, though.
I'd done a geography degree at Uni and was - back then - making a living creating illustrations of maps and isometric landscapes.
But I didn't really know anything about 'illustrated maps.'
I knew how to make art maps, yes.
But I had no idea how to teach it.
The time came to do my workshop in a beautiful arched room in a revitalised monastery in the heart of Spain.
The students gathered on a big table in front of me.
And out of my mouth, the words appeared...
A line of sweat trickled down my back.
People shuffled in their seats.
But then I slowly found my composure.
I started getting a feel for the room and the eyeballs staring up at me.
When I got the students to start making their own drawings and doing the exercises, things started getting fun.
Seeing the paintings and sketches making their way to the wall for all to see really drove the point home:
This was actually pretty amazing.
Very little has beaten that sense of joy from seeing your students coming together to express themselves.
Even if they, too, started off scared, like me.
Here are some other significant lessons I took away from this experience:
When teaching, don't be afraid to slow down.
For the less initiated, rushing through what you're saying can be tempting, often to overcompensate.
We think we're not prepared enough, and so we rush our speech to both make up for our perceived lack of influence, but also because we don't want to absorb the limelight too much.
It takes courage to speak a little more slowly, because it puts attention on you more. But this will work out better for both you and your listeners.
You have more time to think. You say it better. People have the opportunity to absorb what you are saying.
This creates a far better experience.
Teaching is a status boost.
I made some excellent long-term connections with people at the festival.
One of the other workshop teachers, the famed Katsumi Komagata, a Japanese paper illustrator, became a good friend.
We met again some years later for sushi at the top of a tall tower in Tokyo.
When you teach, you become more attractive, and your status rises. People want to approach you.
There's no need to cold approach people you want to work with anymore.
You're already aligned with that thing people gravitate towards.
You don't need to complicate things.
One of my big concerns about showing up to this event was that I was underprepared.
Many of the other teachers had these seemingly elaborate teaching plans.
Some spoke on their topics for long stretches. I didn't do much talking.
I did more supervising.
This was inevitable, given this was an art workshop, but I'm glad this was how I was introduced to giving workshops.
I have taken the minimal approach to my other workshops since then. This means keeping the lessons super distilled and the interaction element significant.
This makes for happier students who share better reviews.
Lastly, immersing myself in this memory by writing about it has rekindled my excitement for teaching.
It's one of the things I want to incorporate more into what I do, but it's also what I want to help you guys figure out too.
We all have several super fun, exciting workshops, retreats, cohorts or classes inside us.
We need to dig it out and get it out to our people.
They need us for this. They really do.
This starts by becoming known. Figure out your brand position, but more than anything, start writing.
Writing online has brought me over 160,000 readers and many opportunities, including being asked to speak in Spain.
I can now make money living where I like working out of any cafe.
Here's meta me literally writing this very article in a Ukrainian cafe in Krakow, Poland.
Until next time dragons,
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