Who is Teaching You?
If you have read the series so far, you will realise that I have spent the past two weeks stressing the importance of good teamwork and intentional learning. This week, I want to bring the two together. You see, no matter how reflective we get, no matter how much time we give to self-improvement, we will always learn much more from other than we possibly could learn on our own.
We all have our blind spots. For me, one of my biggest blindspots for a long time was in my time management. While I always completed jobs on time, my time between jobs was almost always wasted. It was as if I needed the urgency of a deadline to get me in gear. This meant that I often missed good opportunities to grow my business, learn new skills and benefit from time off.
The problem was that, since this was a blindspot for me, there wasn’t a lot I could do to fix it on my own. After all, if I had been able to fix it, I already would have done so! If I was ever going to change, I needed help from someone who was strong in this area so that their strength could help to sort out my weakness.
Outside of immediate business concerns, a little while ago, I also realised, or more correctly, those close to me helped me realise, that I tended to spend too much time talking about myself. This was robbing me of valuable learning opportunities and worse, it was making me come across as a bit self-centred. If I was ever really going to engage with people, this needed to change. While I am still not an expert at this, as you might have guessed from the number of times the words “I” and “me” has come up in the past couple of weeks (!), I do think I am much better than I used to be.
The challenge for us all is to find some way of figuring out what our blindspots are. Sometimes, like for my time management issues, reflection and honesty might make them painfully obvious. For other issues, like my tendency to be me-deep in conversation, it might take the gentle correction of those close to us to point them out.
The important thing is not to reject this correction, in fact, we would all be much better off if we opened ourselves up to this kind of learning. While it might be all too tempting to find excuses or simply ignore our failings, we are ultimately the ones who will be worse off for it.
You simply cannot really learn without changing something and teaching can only come alongside correction. If we don’t actively seek out people we can learn from, we run the risk of stagnating, with only ourselves to blame. If we do seek out people to learn from, while we run the risk of being hurt, we also give ourselves the tools we need to improve.
This week, perhaps it might be time for you to honestly ask yourself whether you have any “teachers” in your life: people you trust enough to correct you and guide you in an area of your life or work. If you don’t, try picking one area where you know you need help and locating someone whom you know is strong in that area. You might want to pick a fairly “low-risk” area that you don’t mind someone having access to. As I mentioned months ago, we often have to take small risks first, before we go for big changes.
If you do have teachers, maybe you could spend some time evaluating how much progress you are making in those areas. Ask those trusted people to honestly give you their feedback on how you are doing. Most of all, you will probably want to thank them for helping you.
If you have just left university, try to remember that your learning isn’t finished; you simply have built the foundation for it to move to another level. Keep learning to keep growing your potential.