Be Teachable

Uncategorized Aug 29, 2022

Last week, a friend and I discussed the five top attributes of good leaders. Items included strong negotiation skills, financial intelligence, and being teachable. Being teachable is perhaps the key to success in almost everything in life.

Being teachable means, you are open to new ideas. You realize and accept you don't have all the answers. You recognize your deficits and are willing to fix them. As a teacher, teachable students tend to be the most enjoyable to work with. They also are the most successful.

Not everyone is teachable, though. I've learned that hard lesson over years of working with clients. Now I screen potential clients on their teachability. You can also evaluate yourself and see how teachable you are. 

Ten questions to ask yourself

  1. Do I listen more than I talk? The ability to listen is key to being a good leader and student. If you want to succeed in negotiations, you must listen. That means you focus on what the other is saying. You have to stop thinking about what you're going to say and focus on their message. If you're too busy or worried about the words that will come out of your mouth, you aren't going to pay attention to the words going into your ears.
  2. Are you open to other people's ideas? We all have biases in life. Sometimes good ideas come from unexpected places and people. I remember a time when a physician in my group was thought to be an oaf and loudmouth. Most folks disregarded his opinions. However, he came to me with an excellent idea. One that made the practice quite a bit of money. We would have missed out on some hefty revenue if I hadn't been open to his ideas. 
  3. Are you willing to change your opinion based on new information? I find it funny that in clinical medicine, the mantra is evidence-based medicine. If a new study shows a better outcome with a different treatment regimen, most physicians are open to that and will try it. However, we tend to do the opposite when it comes to our personal lives and leadership. We deny it or find a reason we can reject the information, so we don't have to change our opinion. I wonder what would happen if we used our clinical evidence-based mindset in our personal lives.
  4. Are you able to admit when you're wrong? I've talked about this before, but being humble and recognizing when you're wrong is a strength, an asset, not a sign of weakness. You'll have more loyal followers if you can do this. Being able to admit you're wrong indicates you've looked at your decision and discovered it wasn't the best. That means you're teachable.
  5. Do you observe before you act? If you're rash and rush into action, you likely don't take the time and energy to observe the situation and determine the best course of action. It's like always wanting to talk instead of pausing to listen. Slow down to grow up.
  6. Do you ask questions? Asking questions is a sign of a good leader and student. It means you've identified holes in your fund of knowledge and are self-aware. If you're not asking questions, you probably think you know everything and will make a poor student because you're not that teachable. 
  7. Will you ask a question even if it makes you feel stupid? As the saying goes, there's no such thing as a dumb question. Most people fail to ask questions because they are more concerned about what others will think of them rather than improving themselves with the knowledge gained from obtaining the answer. You are not teachable when you value your image more than your personal self-growth. Remember when a professor said, "Ask questions because I'm sure someone else in this class is wondering the same thing?" I can assure you that is true. I've lost count of the number of troubles clients have faced that could have been prevented if a physician client had just asked a question or two instead of worrying about their image. A few clients would have saved themselves millions of dollars.
  8. Are you willing to ask for directions or help? If you are unwilling to ask for help, you aren't teachable. Most folks who refuse to ask for help have pride issues. They would rather protect an image they hold of themselves rather than solve the problem quickly. To be teachable, you must ask for help. It's the only way you obtain growth, and that growth can be exponential.
  9. Are you willing to do things differently? If you're willing to try doing something different, you're teachable. It means you've determined that perhaps your way isn't the best, most efficient, or most effortless way to do something. That is a sign of growth. If you say, "I've always done it the same way every time.", stop and ask yourself if your way is the best. It may be, and that's fine. However, if you're unwilling to consider other options, I'm sorry, but you're just not that teachable.
  10.  10.How do you react when you receive a critique? Being able to glean important information from negative feedback is a sign of being very teachable. When I fly, I always ask the co-pilot, if I have one, what I could have done better. Sometimes the feedback stings a bit because I always want to do a good job. If you can't take criticism, then you cannot grow and probably aren't teachable.

Being teachable can be challenging for our egos. It can be a bitter pill to swallow, admitting we aren't perfect or know everything. If you can accept that you don't know everything and work to improve yourself, you'll have a happier life and significantly impact those around you. 

Check out my books!

The Financially Intelligent Physician & Great Care, Every Patient are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Learn more

50% Complete

Sign up today

Sign up for my newsletter. You'll get a monthly email from me sharing valuable business knowledge you can use to have the business you desire.