Business consulting and business and personal coaching require that I interact frequently with a variety of people from all backgrounds and experiences. It’s an amazing way to live because I learn new things every day – and every once in a while – I get to teach.
Those who are moving forward in life have learned two important things. The first is that you can, and should, learn something from every encounter you have in life. The second is that you have a responsibility to pass on the things you learn to others when the opportunity presents itself.
Vodie Bachaum, a pastor and author, tells a story about how he and his family built their first home. After the home was built, Vodie decided to plant some trees in the back yard. He did his homework thoroughly as he picked out the types of trees he wanted and determined exactly where to place them in the yard based on where they would provide the best shade. He finally went out, bought the trees, dug the holes, planted them, staked them, and watered them. He was so pleased with his accomplishment, that he brought his wife, daughter, and son into the back yard to show them the new trees. After an underwhelming silence, Vodie’s son spoke first and said, “Dad, I thought you were planting trees!” Vodie realized that his son had expected to see fully-grown, ready to climb trees, so he explained, “Well, they’re small now, but they’ll be fully grown in about 10 or 15 years.” Vodie’s daughter then chimed in and said, “But, Dad, 15 years is – like – forever!”
At that point, Vodie saw a teachable moment. He explained to his children that sometimes we have to plant trees knowing that the people who come after us will be the ones who get to enjoy the shade.
In your work, your marriage, and your family – do you look for the teachable moments? Do you look for opportunities to enrich the lives of others by sharing what you have learned on your unique journey here on planet earth?
Perhaps more importantly, do you have a thirst for knowledge and learning that is so strong that you seek to learn something from every encounter? Do you not only realize – but firmly believe – that you can learn from everyone, from every situation – and that in so doing you will become a better, more well-rounded person?
Learn to look for the teachable moments in life, not just to teach others, but to be taught by them.