September 22, 2017

The Most Important Life Skill—A Teachable Spirit

You know by now that I like questions. I have not always had a warm relationship with questions. I am sure I am not alone. Goodness, learning to invite inquiry capable of exposing ignorance is uncomfortable.

Through years of being rewarded for having answers we learn to lead with confidence and rely on what we know. Slowly but surely we extinguish our innate teachable spirit and insistently rely on a base of knowledge that grows more fragile every day.

Futuristic author and speaker John Naisbitt said, “No one subject or set of subjects will serve you for a foreseeable future, let alone the rest of your life.”

What am I missing?

A teachable spirit is essential to great living. It provides a sustainable platform for impact, influence and relevance. The nurturing of a teachable spirit begins with embracing the heart of a beginner.

I’d be the first to admit that I don’t like the feeling of being a beginner—do you? I’ve spent a lot of years relying on confidence grounded in what I know rather than considering what I might be missing.

Albert Einstein when asked about his tremendous contributions said, “I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious…It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer…Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

What do you know?

I recently watched a episode of fear {less} hosted by Tim Ferris. Ferris is constantly deconstructing excellence and pursuing truth. He asked a question that I can’t easily dismiss, “What if 50% of what you believed to be true was false and you didn’t know which half?”

Exploring the limits of our knowledge and understanding is rarely comfortable. The great musician Louis Armstrong once said, “There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t teach them.”

Are you teachable?

Being teachable requires awareness. An awareness that the greatest obstacle to developing and nurturing a teachable spirit is our inability to recognize our own ignorance.

Jackie Joyner Kersee is considered by many to be the greatest all-around female athlete in history. She fueled her champions mind-set that produced an unparalleled Olympic record with a teachable spirit. Kersee, said, “I maintained my edge by always being a student; you will always have something new to learn.”

The Mindset of a Teachable Spirit

We open the door to a teachable spirit when we embrace the mindset of a beginner. How do you step into the beginners lane! John Maxwell, in his book Sometimes You Win--Sometimes You Learn, suggests we can build a teachable spirit by keeping three things in mind:

  1. Everyone has something to teach me.
  2. Every day I have something to learn.
  3. Every time I learn something, I benefit.

The Most Important Life Skill

Nurturing and developing a teachable spirit may be the most important life skill. It is the key to gaining and sustaining personal and professional relevance. It may also be the key to relevance and impact as we age.

What if 50% of you you believed was false and you didn’t know which half?

Today is a great day to learn something new!

Recommended Reading

Sometimes You Win--Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses by John Maxwell

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