“What is something you’d like to change about yourself?” I posed the question to my unwilling Speech class. I was coaching them on interview skills. As a pre-test I had them quickly write responses to seven interview questions for a job as a line cook (the job one of their classmates selected from the local paper).
“That’s a good question, Miss.”
I nodded. Don’t we ask that of you every day, I wanted to ask.
“Miss! That’s a really good question!” Now he was stalling and had me concerned. We moved on.
“How do you define success?” I continued.
“Ohhh,” spoke out the same student, like he had caught on to some trick of mine, “Good one. I don’t know, Miss, how would you define it?”
These weren’t trick questions. These weren’t even obscure questions. These are the questions I want them to think about every day. Smiling, I reminded him, “Not today. Today, you answer as if you were in an interview. Think: when do you feel successful?” My heart sank when he didn’t answer, and I chided myself for asking such a ridiculous question. My students feel success? They almost don’t recognize the feeling when it bites them in the nose. “Your art, or lettering,” I prodded. “Do you feel successful when you draw? Yeah? How so?”
A few more questions and I saw his wiry frame relax a little as he concluded that he felt successful when he did something he loved. We also agreed he wouldn’t love being a line cook, and that was OK.