be teachable

The #1 Key to Personal Growth

As we get older, we all have a tendency to become more and more opinionated and less and less teachable, when in reality, a growing person should always be a learning person. Whether in a marriage, in a friendship, or in the workplace, to be teachable is one of the greatest factors of any person’s success.

Our 17-year-old recently started working at Chick-Fil-A, and we were discussing the secrets to success in any job. I gave him multiple ideas but told him that the #1 thing that would take him far in his job and in any area of life is to simply be teachable. As a leader, I would take teachability over talent any day of the week. Because a teachable person with little talent has more potential than a talented person with little teachability. As a parent, an employee, or a spouse, here are 3 important tips in order to be teachable.

1. Listen to both sides of anything.

A willingness to listen does not have to equal agreement, but it does indicate humility and a desire to learn. Often, we only expose ourselves to those who agree with us, and as a result, we not only reinforce our own opinions (however right or wrong they may be), we become easily frustrated with anyone who doesn’t agree with us. Why? Because we can’t understand why someone would think or believe the way they do. But why should we, when we haven’t taken time to try and understand their point of view? Teachability remedies this. Because when we understand a person’s story and how their viewpoints have been shaped by their experiences, we will more easily understand their perspective. Do you allow yourself to understand where another person is coming from?

2. Ask lots of questions.

A teachable person is not afraid to ask questions in order to learn or become better. In our family, we encourage our children to ask us questions about anything. We have told them that there is no question off limits (of course, we reserve the right not to give an answer to every question). We want our children to be teachable, and helping them learn to ask the right questions is crucial for this. I had a leader once tell me, “I don’t get concerned when people under me ask questions. I’m actually encouraged by it. However, I do get concerned when they have no questions at all.”

3. Remember, you don’t always have to be right.

A person’s teachable nature, or lack thereof, can be either a cap or a catalyst for their growth.

This is a tough one. One of the greatest characteristics of the teachable person is that they are humble, and more often than not, patient and kind as well. They are willing to show grace to other people who disagree with them, and they are still willing to learn from those people, despite their disagreements. A teachable person is not too good to learn something from anyone, even an enemy. And a teachable person does not always have to prove themselves right, even when they know they are. However, a teachable person is humble enough to accept correction when they are wrong and willing to admit where they need improvement.

Because no one will ever completely arrive, a person will never grow beyond his or her ability to be teachable. So a person’s teachable nature, or lack thereof, can be either a cap or a catalyst for their growth.

Sound off: In which of these three areas could you become more teachable?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “In what ways could I be a more teachable person?”