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July 6, 2021

Be Teachable

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We know how important it is to be a lifelong learner, but today I wanted to hone in on the other side of the coin. It’s one thing to seek knowledge and learn, but it’s another thing to be teachable. Being teachable means that you’re receptive to other people and their perspectives, you’re humble in understanding that you don’t know everything, and you’re open-minded enough to consider new ideas and possibilities.

We have a natural tendency to validate the way we think about things. It’s called confirmation bias and it exists to protect ourselves from the discomfort of violating our belief systems. The unfortunate consequence is that confirmation bias encourages us to seek information in a way that simply strengthens what we already know or believe to be true, and the more that happens, the more resistant we are to being receptive to alternatives.

Again, being teachable counteracts this resistance because it allows other people and resources, who have reasoned differently, to leave a real impression. It means that you don’t hold on so tightly to your own beliefs and you’re willing to adjust your own opinions and behaviors because you value the new information. In a world that is a constant feedback loop, we need to be willing to accept that we’re wrong sometimes so that we can re-orient ourselves toward a more aligned direction.

Being teachable involves listening without judgment, considering beliefs that make you uncomfortable, respecting others’ experience and histories that led them to draw certain conclusions, and being receptive to new ideas.  When you're teachable you’ll find that others are more wiling and interested in investing in you if they know that you’re actually going to use their feedback, which will accelerate your personal learning curve.

So be teachable. Pursue your own knowledge and learn on your own accord, but also keep an open mind to all of the possibilities and alternatives around you.

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