The Brain-Eating Zombie of Shutting Up

Yes, I have complained about how much people reveal about themselves on Facebook. Yes, I have been shocked by how thin (or non-existent) is the filter between brain and mouth.

Now, to the exceptions. Sometimes, keeping quiet does not serve your creativity. Or your peace of mind. Yesterday, I posted about the amazing shrinking class–the registration was full, but only two people showed up. It was hard for me to admit it out loud. How humiliating it felt to admit that the class was not full. And for all the readers on this blog to see! And my competitors to chortle about! Surely, I should shut up about this. No, that is not a good idea. It helps nothing.

Not shutting up is exactly what Brené Brown means when she talks about being vulnerable. It wasn’t about me. I wrote that blog for three reasons:

1. I learned an important business lesson.

2. Other instructors, who had not learned the lesson yet, could learn it without being humiliated.

3. Other instructors could also save themselves a loss of income.

The simple solution to the problem is to get paid before class. Not to punish people, but to create an accurate count for materials, and to judge the pace of the class.

When I create the class (and later, the flyer)  I  plan for a certain number of people, and then plan the pace and scope of the class. I can make small adjustments, but if extra people show up, I might not have enough supplies, and I will have to shorten what I teach to plan for keeping everyone in the class on target and able to complete the project.

If too few people show up, the class might drag, and I’ll have to fill in projects to keep them busy enough. No one wants to pay for a class and then finish two hours early. The participants might feel that they deserve a refund if the time wasn’t filled.

This is a teaching fact–there is a lot of work a teacher does that participants never see. And that is the whole point of  my speaking out. It’s not about being humiliated–there was nothing to be humiliated about. People who don’t show up after saying they will aren’t humiliating me, they are embarrassing themselves.

Competitors who snicker when I didn’t fill a class are doing so because they have experienced it themselves and still feel the pain. And every instructor has felt that pain. How they deal with it is up to them, and doesn’t affect me.

There is no bitterness in asking people to pay ahead of time. It simply is a good teaching practice. And my feeling humiliated? It’s an Inner Critic move to diminish my attention to class success and crank up creative insecurity.

Tending to boundaries is an important practice. On Wednesday, there will be more about the importance of boundaries and establishing and tending them.

-Quinn McDonald teaches much more than art projects.