Being teachable is an absolute necessity for single people. It truly is a shortcut to maturity and a happier life.
This trait requires an attitude many people do not possess. On one end of the spectrum are those who fail to appreciate the value of lifelong learning. On the other end are those who believe they already know it all.
The fact that you're reading this article shows you have an innate curiosity, along with the desire to improve yourself. You've managed to overcome any natural prejudices and leave yourself open to new ideas.
As I often say on this web site, "My pain, your gain." Why make dozens of mistakes in the single life when you can learn from mine and avoid them yourself? Doesn't that make more sense than being closed minded and going through unnecessary struggles?
If you'd like to be more teachable, or you'd like to forward this article to someone who doesn't think they have any more to learn, here are a few lessons I've picked up over the years.
We single folks need all the help we can get. As much as we enjoy our independence, we can progress by leaps and bounds by admitting we are not the genius we might think we are. It's a matter of humility versus arrogance.
Oddly, when you go through high school or college, you seldom think, "This instructor has nothing for me. I know more than they do about this topic." No, if you're wise, you realize this person is an expert in their field and you're not. Everybody has to start somewhere. We all begin with the basics and build on them.
In life, however, we see older people, people in other kinds of jobs, or people who are not as worldly as us, and we assume they have nothing to show us. What a mistake!
When I was a young boy, I came to learn that my father had a great deal to teach me. During the Great Depression, he had dropped out of high school to help support his brothers and sisters. He never got his high school diploma, yet he was one of the wisest men I've ever known. He had an understanding of people and life that was greater than most college professors. He was a terrific judge of character and passed much of his wisdom on to my brother and me. We were both proud of our father.
Being teachable makes you smarter because you pick up knowledge wherever it can be found. You benefit from the study and hard work of others. You add to your expertise with less effort than if you had labored for that education on your own.
When I was in high school, I realized older people were an immeasurable source of wisdom. I decided to reject that typical teenage attitude that I knew it all. I determined to draw out all the know-how I could from the older people I encountered. They were always eager to pass on worthwhile advice to somebody who genuinely wanted to learn.
Knowledge + Experience = WISDOM
Through their own life adventures, these senior citizens had seen a lot. What's more, they had had time to analyze it, figuring out what they would have done differently. They passed their lessons on to me.
And now I'm passing them on to you.
So it's not just my pain you're benefitting from, but theirs as well. And that's how wisdom accumulates over the centuries. Much can be picked up from books, but even more comes from simple conversations, because you can ask questions when you don't understand.
As I mentioned earlier, it's all about attitude. Be receptive and you'll grow up faster. Assume you already know everything you need to, and you'll make a lot of mistakes you could have avoided.
Teachable people can be mature at 30. Self-important people can be immature at 90.
Being teachable forces you to be humble. If you're the least bit insecure, it may be hard to acknowledge just how uninformed you are in some areas. You really open yourself to learn when you push your fears and ego out of the way.
The good part? Most people who possess worthwhile knowledge can't wait to share it with others. There's something incredibly fulfilling about teaching someone from your own experience. The best teachers want their students to understand and excel.
Every person is a teacher, not just those who do it for a living. When you learn something from another, a remarkable thing happens. You appreciate that person more for the gift they have given you. Perhaps they helped you in a way no one else on earth could have.
You are the sum of what you have learned on your own and what you have learned from others. Being teachable has turned you into the person you are today. It will make you the person you want to become.
There's only one way you can pay back for the life-changing wisdom others have given you: Pass it on to someone else.