Over the years I have wondered why some people’s growth accelerates while others either plateau or drift into mediocrity. Although there are a good number of things that could be listed, I think one stands out above all–a lack of teachability. In fact, author/pastor Matt Keller wrote a whole book on the subject called The Key to Everything: Unlocking the Secret to Why Some People Succeed and Others Don’t. I am not sure if this is absolutely true but it does resonate with me.
I am on my way to improving my coaching ability and I attribute that to a couple of things–one is my own hunger and drive to want to be an effective and useful coach, but the other is my growing teachability, especially towards my own mentor coach.
My own coach doesn’t hold back in his feedback. I think I’ve demonstrated over the last couple of years that I want to learn so he gets right in there and isn’t afraid to use phrases like,
“Luch, slow down. One thought at a time.”
“Stop stacking questions.”
“Don’t run away from me.”
“Luch, you need to wallow but eventually you need to swallow because frankly, nobody cares”
“Let me finish before you interrupt me.” (Ouch)
I think over the years teachability has served me well, whether as a competitive runner, a school teacher in training, a pastor/ mentor in the making. In all these roles and more, whenever I have chosen to set aside my ego and not give into my ‘china doll feelings’ I have benefited from the one giving me the correction or instruction.
I am the first to admit that being teachable as a way of life is not easy. The older you get it seems the harder it is to receive any kind of feedback from anyone, especially your spouse or kids, or even friends who care about you.
A piece of Jewish wisdom says, “If you accept correction, you will be honoured.” Proverbs 13:18
When someone makes a suggestion to your or a critique of something you’ve done, what’s your response?
Do you resist and ‘ya but’ yourself out of getting the correction? Or do you receive it humbly and say, “Thanks for that. Anything else?”
One way to begin to move into the arena of being teachable is to actually ask people you trust and who you perceive have your best interest at heart to point out anything in your life that may concern them. I know that sounds heavy but if you are serious about character growth, that’s a good place to start.
A couple of years ago I asked each of my adult children to provide me constructive feedback. I started by saying, “Over the years I know I have been ‘large and in charge’ in your lives, and that at times I may have overstepped my self in my overzealousness to be a good dad. Is there anything you remember that I did or said that left any bad effect on you? Please let me know. I am all ears. Really. ”
And you know what, they have each had something to say to me that has been extremely useful and had a positive effect on our relationships into their 30s.
i have to admit that receiving feedback is not always easy. In fact, C. S. Lewis says it well,
“Learning is not child’s play; we cannot learn without pain.”
A final question…..