What Moses knew about getting ready to teach.

There’s a class you’ve been thinking about offering for some time now. But, you’re not quite ready. A little more research, a little more thinking, and you’re sure you’ll finally be ready.

But, despite your passion, it’s flat. Even practicing it in front of a friend or colleague, it still feels flat. Oh no! When will you ever be ready to offer this to people?

There is a missing ingredient, and Moses knew what it was.

You need manna from heaven. Allow me a short biblical story. You see, when the Israelites followed Moses out of Egypt, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. And, every evening, manna came from heaven to feed them.

There’s a funny thing about manna, though. If you collected more than you needed, it spoiled, because it was only good for one day. You were forced to trust that more was coming tomorrow.

You have to be where the help is needed. When you stand in the facilitator/teacher position, it’s like being a spark plug. You are a conductor, as it were, of Source. Simply standing in that role means that your being becomes part of the pathway Source travels to reach the students in need.

There is no amount of pre-event preparation that will provide that feeling of being ‘plugged-in’ for you. You have to trust that the manna is coming.

The scariest exercise ever. When I was faculty at the University for Spiritual Healing and Sufism in the Teacher Internship Program, we gave the students a scary exercise.

Stand up in front of the group, and teach from the heart, without any preparation. Without an agenda, without knowing what you were going to say. Just sense into what is needed, what is flowing through, and let it come out your mouth.

The result? Well, if fear overcame the student, the flow was blocked, and the effect was often stilted. However, if the student overcame the fear, and allowed him or herself to connect, what came out was stunning. Stunning.

It reminded me of my friend Alison Luterman, a poet who taught poetry in the schools. The older kids often had a lot of self-consciousness in their writing. But the young ones? You could hold their poetry up to Rumi or Hafiz, and the power was stunning.

The best speaker got a D-. I used this approach when I gave a talk at the National Speakers Association national conference. Afterwards, one of the members told me what he told an NSA board member: “In terms of all the things professional speakers are ‘supposed’ to do to give a good presentation, I give Mark a D minus. But, I found him to be the best speaker of the entire week, including those giving the key notes, because he connected to us.”

You don’t need to be perfect. In fact, you can be very imperfect. And yet, the manna from heaven always comes. It always comes. Repeat this to yourself: ‘Manna from Heaven always comes.’

Heaven delivers the manna to the hungry. The only way to see if it shows up is to show up there yourself, in front of the people who need it.

Is it really as simple as that? Well, yes and no. There are a few things that can help the process. Keep reading.

Keys to Finding the Manna.

• It does help to prepare.

How much preparation? I plan a fair amount, but I don’t fret over exact wording. I also make sure that I’m limiting how much I’m trying to say. A little bit goes a long way.

The trick is I don’t look for whether or not I’m ‘ready.’ I look for whether I have bullet points on the pieces I want to convey. If I feel like I know the material to the point that if someone asked a question, I could answer it, then that counts for me as ‘enough.’

• Take time to connect in every moment.

In radio, the ultimate sin is ‘dead air’ when no one is saying anything. This does not apply in teaching. If you don’t know what to say next, pause, connect in your heart, connect to the audience, and wait to see what comes out.

This is the most nerve-wracking part: waiting to see if the manna comes. However, I urge you to try it. If you just wait with your heart open, you’ll be surprised to find that something does come out of you. It may be nothing you planned for, but it will be good, I promise you.

When I say ‘wait’ I mean feel free to pause, take a deep breath, look into the eyes of people in the audience, and wonder in your heart, ‘What’s needed next?’ And see what comes.

• Receive from the audience.

They want you to succeed. They do. They’ve invested their time and energy to show up, they really want you to do well. That’s some good juju to receive from their hearts.

Just recently during a talk I gave, I looked around the room and noticed several people smiling and beaming at me. I took a pause just to soak that up and smile back. Others were staring intently. I might have interpreted that as they were upset, but I know from experience that usually people with that kind of an expression are really engaged. I took a moment to connect with their eyes and to soak that up, too.

Whatever new class, offer, presentation that is facing you, forget about being ‘ready’ for it. Prepare yourself, and then step into the spark plug position with your heart open. And watch as the manna from heaven comes through you to those who need it.