I grew up in a town in southern Nigeria and made plans to go visit with my family over the Sallah holidays. Last week, as I talked about my impending trip home, one of my younger colleagues asked me about the bats. Bats? I looked at him a little confused and stunned. Then he said to me that there were bats around the city centre where the traditional ruler’s palace was located. Okay, there was a defensive part of me that was looking to challenge him and rebut what he said, after all I grew up there and felt I knew the town. But I shut up and admitted that I didn’t know about the bats and listened as he spoke about having spent his mandatory National Youth Service year there and how that he certainly saw the bats on more than one occasion and had learnt that they had to do with the location of the palace. Not too long after, whilst this conversation was yet ongoing, my boss walked in and confirmed it. Turns out that everyone but me knew about the preponderance of bats in that part of the town and not at night. For some reason, I had never noticed. It matters not that my parents and grandparents live there or that I spent a large portion of my growing up years there, I had been schooled afresh by an unlikely someone who just knew more than I did. Rationalizing though, he shouldn’t have known more about the town than I did, think about it, one year of youth service versus several years and family ties? Now, was I glad that I listened?

And then, it hit me. How many times do we miss out on the beauty of life because we are simply not teachable? Does our ego get in the way or do we shut our minds up from learning from people whom we consider ourselves better experienced than? We are typically more amenable to receiving teaching from older, more experienced people but I have seen people carry on with this superiority chip on their shoulders, shutting up others whom they feel they have more experience than. In my view, ‘teachability’ is truly more about attitude than it is about mental capacity or competence. According to John Maxwell, it is the desire to listen, learn, and apply. It is the hunger to discover and grow. It is the willingness to learn, unlearn, and relearn. I am reminded that to learn is to grow, so if we remain teachable, we are better able to make an impact. Infact, we are simply better people if we keep expecting and striving to learn. For me, growing is a priority! I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t growing, learning, and sharing. I believe it is part of my destiny. I love hearing and learning something NEW

There is an old Taoist story about a student who comes to a master and asks him to teach him. The master invites the student to sit with him and have tea. While they are sitting the master starts to converse with the eager young student. But every time the master starts to explain a point the student would interrupt him and say, “Oh I know that, I do this when that happens, or I don’t have that problem because…” Soon the master stopped talking and picked up the teapot. He began pouring tea into the students cup, as the cup filled he continued pouring until the cup overflowed and spilled out. The student shouted stop! It is enough! My cup is full! With that the old master smiled and replied, yes your cup is full, therefore I can teach you nothing until you empty your cup.

Now, I am sure you get my point from the story. The student had an un-teachable attitude. Instead of listening to the master he wanted to show how much he already knew. He was not open to learning anything new that he believed he had already learned. His cup of knowledge was full. He had to empty that cup before he could learn from the new master. However, emptying your cup does not mean you must give up all you have learned or forget all that you know. To empty your cup simply means to adapt a teachable attitude, the ability to temporarily put what you know about something out of your mind and listen to a new explanation, or share new insight. To be honest, ‘If I learn compassion, it matters not if the instruction comes from a pastor, a colleague, a life coach, an invalid parent, a terminally ill relative, my spouse or a six year old; what matters is that the learning takes place. Too many have missed vital life lessons focusing too intently on the teacher. Humility and true wisdom enables one to learn something from everyone. Humility shows a great strength of character, humility is not weak, pride is weak! Pride is walking around with your cup full and showing everyone that it is full! Pride is definitely the main cause of the un-teachable attitude.

I believe that teachability is the attitude that sets true leaders apart. When we stay teachable, we get better and sound better.Some of us would have missed out on Naaman’s type of life changing miracle because we would never have given the servant girl a chance. It is more about the message than it is about the messenger and some of us need to learn to pay attention to the message. Infact, I had to ask myself a question. If I was Naaman’s wife, would my maid feel comfortable enough to care about helping to solve my problem? Would she have audience to share her opinion? (Now, I know there are some oversabi maids, so that’s not the point, the point is how receptive we are to others and how teachable we truly are). Some weeks ago, I listened to my 12 year old cousin as we spoke about relationships and the ‘Friend Zone’ and she made a whole lot of sense for her age. I gained a lot for just opening my mind to listen, imagine if I shut her up. I believe tat true leaders  are not threatened by new knowledge. Bringing it home now, are you that boss at work that shuts his/her subordinates up when they bring up new ideas simply because they are not familiar? Or are you just stuck in the old because you have refused to learn new things? It’s very sad because your ‘unteachability’ affects a lot more people than yourself. Everyone in your sphere of influence gains when you stay teachable and vice versa.

A friend said to me yesterday, ‘we are blessed by the depth of the people around us…’ and I agree. I truly wish we would stop being so defensive about learning and just be a more teachable bunch. God would rather have us be clay in the hands of the potter, pliable and moldable, which speaks to our teach ability. Every day, on my journey, I find the most amazing inspiration in the most unlikely places, in the lives and nuances of the amazing people on my Twitter TL, in the comments made by the cleaning lady as I ask her how she’s doing and wait to hear her response. At work, I receive tutelage from my direct reports and other subordinates who find a way or make one to get their tasks done. In different ways, they all teach me and as I learn, I grow. I hear ego and the flesh saying ‘me, me, and me’ when we say, ‘what could she/ he know?’ or when we act that way.


Truly, God cannot work with a man who is not teachable and one is who teachable is humble, able to shut down his or her ego and tell his or her feelings to shut up. Paul was the last of the apostles, yet when he came and saw Peter and other Christian leaders in Antioch debating about whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised or observe the dietary laws and circumcision Paul didn’t agree with Peter. (Acts 15, Galatians2) Eventually, it was agreed not to burden Gentiles with unnecessary laws. Imagine if that was you or me today, would we not say, who is Paul to correct us? After we walked with Jesus for 3 years and a half years? He wasn’t there when we broke bread, he wasn’t there when Jesus was taken into heaven, he wasn’t even there at the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit filled the 120. But Peter, James and the other leaders were teachable enough to pay attention. We receive the word by revelation, why would we throw away deep and valid revelation simple because we do not recognize the person sharing?

Life is a school with so many faculties, you may have a Ph.D in one area and be a novice in another and someone else may just have all the answers you seek in the area of your lack. There is a reason for instance that doctors hold clinical meetings with everyone from the consultant to the lowly medical officer in attendance. Everyone’s view is important. My point is simple, let go of that ego, be teachable. You’ll be amazed how much easier life becomes when you allow yourself the privilege of learning from others actively and passively. So, you don’t make your soup that way, well, here is an opportunity to learn another method of cooking it. If you let go of the ego, you just keep learning every day and when you go to bed, you are a better person than when you woke up.

A teachable attitude is key to living carefully; applying our hearts to wisdom and being able to make the most of every opportunity and understanding the Lord’s will and plan for our lives. I am praying for grace to be more teachable.
John Maxwell developed a series of questions to determine if you are really open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. I call it the ‘Teachability Grid’. Here goes:
1. Am I open to other people’s ideas?
2. Do I listen more than I talk?
3. Am I open to changing my opinion based on new information?
4. Do I readily admit when I am wrong?
5. Do I observe before acting on a situation?
6. Do I ask questions?
7. Am I willing to ask a question that will expose my ignorance?
8. Am I open to doing things in a way I haven’t done before?
9. Am I willing to ask for directions?
10. Do I act defensive when criticized, or do I listen openly for truth?

According to John Maxwell, if you answered no to one or more of these questions, then like me, you have room to grow in the area of teachability. You need to soften your attitude, learn humility, and remember the words of John Wooden: “Everything we know we learned from someone else!”



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  1. And, again am wowed.
    I agree with your view that we need to soften up and listen more–a virtue, I lack in great quantity.
    I would be loved more by F&F if I would be patient enough to learn their worldview and adapt to them. I most importantly need to accept the right for some people to be wrong also, I seem to assume some thinking that I am responsible for their adoption of the right thought [only God knows if I am right].
    I sincerely like to think that I’m proud in my relationship with God as I have been struggling with myself on how best to approach God.
    This article has crystalized my errors, and I would strive for a change. Thank You.

    1. Thanks Charles! May God help us to shut down our egos and be soft enough to listen more, not defensively like we sometimes do and actually learn. More grace!

  2. So this weekend I was asked to work on a project with another department. I’d never worked with that department before and was so angry that I was being asked to do work I had no familiarity with. I complained and complained until I realized that , this too, was a teaching and learning opportunity. Instead of grumbling at facing a new challenge, I should have embraced it,let go of my ego and tried to learn something. reading your post today just confirmed that. Thank you.

    1. I was worried about the length of this post. 🙂 and I’m glad it spoke to you. Yes, taking on new challenges, learning and being teachable is the way to go. Muchos Gracias. Don’t be a stranger!.

  3. Life is indeed a school with so many faculties. Thanks for such an insightful write-up buddymine! Your message points me back to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ – that we ought to have a childlike teachable spirit and so I will by His stupendous grace! No one is too small or too big to learn something new from anyone! Point taken.

  4. This is indeed a wonderful post and a topic very close to my heart. I saw a quote when I was quite young and it stuck to me: The day you stop learning, you start dying. I didn’t want to ‘die’ so I subconsciously opened up myself and as a result learnt to be teachable. And I have found that some of the most important lessons of my life have come from the most unlikely sources. Now I’m a teacher myself and I meet resistance at times because of my sex and age, I find it helps to admit that I don’t know everything and to keep my classes interactive.

    And I’ve also learnt that the more I learn, the more ‘ignorant’ I find myself to be, keeping me humble and teachable.

    1. “And I’ve also learnt that the more I learn, the more ‘ignorant’ I find myself to be, keeping me humble and teachable’.
      That’s truly classic my dear. It’s the way I feel when I walk into a large book store or library, I feel ignorant, humble and teachable.
      Well done dear, I appreciate your comment and trust God for more grace for you to remain balanced as you learn and grow. I’m on my journey to being more teachable. See you on the other side.

  5. Wow! So much freshness as I imagined! This is really brilliant! We need to humble ourselves more often and pay attention sometimes to those we think know nothing. It’ll amaze you how much they have to offer. I really think this was great! More grace to your pen! Cheers

    1. Hey! Thanks dearie, glad it spoke to you. Truly, we all need to humble ourselves and trust God for grace to be like little children, not afraid to be wrong, not afraid to learn more and without the encumberances of our pride and ego. God help us truly!

  6. LOL at the bats!
    we are in the same boat in this situation; grew up in same town and only knew about the bats last year from a friend that had never been in the city and it was only then i took out time to notice them.
    FYI: you get the best view of the bats between 6 and 7pm.
    Anywhere from GRA, Airport road, ring road.

    1. LOL!!! I finally find someone that can relate to my ignorance at the bats. Am I excited at the mutual ignorance. Hallelujah, now we can see the light!!! We do have quite a bit in common don’t we? Fresh!!! Okay, here’s a raised glass to continued growth and learning. I trust that you are expanding and pushing new boundaries for yourself. Much love my dear. God bless you!

      1. Lool! Funny that yall residents didn’t notice the bats. I visited that town very very often growing up, cos my Grandparents lived there. I’m not sure of the routine though, but the bats seem to move between the palace and the museum in the afternoon. If you’re anywhere near ring road, you’ll def see them. Funny cos there’s a flock of bats that make afternoon trips near the museum in Jos too.

        Now to the point: thanks for the reminder about teachability. It takes Grace and patience to just simmer down and listen sometimes, even when one doesn’t agree. Help, Lord!

        1. My dear, it’s amazing how we often miss out on things that lie under our nostrils. We take familairity for granted and sometimes, it takes a visitor to show us the beauty around us. This is a good good example. I laughed as I realised how representative of life this bat story really is. And to the point, yes o, Help Lord!!! Grace to simmer and listen and learn. Thanks sis. Bless your heart. xxx

  7. key point: keep an open mind and hold the view that there is something to be learned from everyone you meet if only you will look out for it.

    lengthy write up, yet fresh as a new day 🙂

    1. Very fresh and concise summary there. You are so right and I appreciate you for reading through the lengthy post. that’s it, Keeping an open mind…there surely is something to be learned from everyone.

    1. Hello ‘Son’, yes it does take a huge dose of humility to keep learning and to grow wisdom. Good to have you visit again Seun. Many thanks…

  8. I was very pleased to get this web-site.I needed to great time for this glorious read!! My spouse and i definitely savoring every little it and i also have you book marked to check out blog you short article.

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