Learning from ourselves

05/20/2012

“You teach best what you most need to learn.” ~Richard Bach

This line from Richard Bach’s book ‘Illusions’ has been running through my mind for the past couple of days. One of my favorite authors, Marianne Williamson, frequently shares very personal stories about her honest trials through life which makes her advice all the more more palatable to me.

But that’s my preference. We share in our own ways and we learn in our own ways. Just because I prefer authors who share their personal journey doesn’t mean everyone is so sensitive as to how advice is presented. Perhaps what I most need to learn is that we all write in very unique styles. That’s what creates this wonderful world of blogging. I am an ongoing student and today’s lesson is Humility.

I want to share an article from inspirational speaker Mike Robbins who expresses eloquently so much of what I feel and wish I could write. I hope you enjoy. Blessings. Gina

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We Teach Best What We Most Need To Learn ~ © Mike Robbins 2012
Originally on www.mike-robbins.com  Here in its entirety with permission.

I’ve been humbled by some recent critical feedback. It seems that some people close to me, both personally and professionally, have been quite frustrated with me – especially as I ramp up for the release of my new book. Ironically, the things they’re upset with me about have to do with the exact things I teach – appreciation, authenticity, positive communication, keeping things in perspective, and more.

Although my ego wants to (and has been) defending myself, making excuses, and trying to justify my actions – it’s clear to me that their feedback is accurate. I actually struggle in many ways, especially when I get scared or stressed, to practice what I preach. As I’ve been making my way through my feelings of remorse, embarrassment, and confusion – I’ve been thinking a lot about the well-known saying, “We teach best what we most need to learn.”

Isn’t this true?  So often the advice we give to others is the exact advice we need ourselves. It’s ironic that we sometimes don’t recognize this in the moment (or at all) and also sad that we don’t give ourselves permission to listen to our own good advice.  Too often, we hold ourselves to some ridiculous standard of “perfection” (which no one ever attains) or we’re too self-conscious to admit we struggle with some of the very same things we advise others to do.

However, what if we did listen to ourselves and could realize that the things we passionately want to teach other people (whether or not we think of ourselves as a “teacher”) are the things we, ourselves, truly want to learn and embody. This takes a vigilant level of self awareness and honesty that many of us, myself included, don’t always want to practice. When we do, not only can we grow personally, we can also enhance and deepen our relationships with others and our ability to impact them in a positive way.

Here are a few things we can do to learn from ourselves and use our own advice in a positive, not self-righteous, way:

1)  Be Honest – As the saying goes, “the truth shall set you free.” The more willing we are to tell the truth about how we feel, what we want, and what we see – the less likely we are to be arrogant, self-righteous, judgmental, or defensive with others. This means we’re willing to admit our own hypocrisy to ourselves and others, with compassion.

2)  Have Compassion – Remember that everyone, including you, is doing the best they can in each and every moment. Having compassion is one of the many things in life that is simple, but not easy. The place for us to start is with ourselves. When we can forgive ourselves and get off our own back, we then have the ability to that with others as well.

3)  Stop Trying to be Perfect – Perfection demands never work – whether they’re focused outward or inward. When we expect ourselves, others, or things to be “perfect,” everyone loses. What if we didn’t have to do everything right, know everything, and always “walk our talk.” Sometimes we don’t, and that’s okay. When we stop trying to be perfect, we can accept ourselves as we are. Acceptance leads to peace, joy, and fulfillment in our relationships and our lives.

Remembering that life is filled with irony and that it’s okay for us to make mistakes, pretend to know stuff we don’t, and act like we have certain things figured out when really we struggle with them, can be humbling at first. However, when we embrace the idea that we always teach best what we most need to learn, we can create a deep sense of freedom in our lives that actually gives us the space and the power to be ourselves and impact others in the positive way we desire. 

Mike Robbins delivers dynamic keynotes, seminars, and coaching programs that empower people and organizations to be more successful, appreciative, and authentic. He’s the author of two bestselling books, Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley).

10 responses to Learning from ourselves

  1. 

    I really understood where this message was coming from! I remember as a teacher – way back in the Dark Ages – being much more effective as a math teacher than I was teaching English or Social Studies. Why? Because math was always hard for me as a student – and so I related to the kids who were struggling and needed the concepts broken down and presented in a multitude of ways. I had a lot of patience with them. Teaching things that came easily to me may have seemed more natural, but as an elementary teacher who didn’t work in an environment where subjects were departmentalized, I had to be ready to do them all! I might not have chosen to teach math or science, but I had to. As such, I worked harder to prepare, and I taught best what I most needed to learn. You got it! I didn’t expect perfection – not from myself, nor from the students. I just expected us all to do our best. And we did! Together, with compassion for one another, we made it through the struggle. You said, ” …we can create a deep sense of freedom in our lives that actually gives us the space and the power to be ourselves and impact others in the positive way we desire.” You’re so right! Thanks for the reminder, Mike. And thanks for posting this, Gina!

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      Dearest Jan, you make such a wonderful point here. Thank you so much for sharing, and if I may add – on behalf of those students you related to – thank you for being the ideal example of what a teacher is… someone to LEAD the way, through example. Bless your kind and wise heart. I am so delighted we have met through our blogging endeavours.

  2. 

    “Stop Trying to be Perfect” really sits with me, Gina! Sometimes my perfectionism gets in the way of what I really want to say, or do. I’ll never be “perfect”, nor will anything that I strive to do in my life, I suppose we can only do the best with what time is given to us (with thanks to Gandalf and Mr. Tolkien for further inspiration! :P)

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      I love your comment! Releasing that ‘perfectionist’ tendency sits well with me too. Working on it. The other blog I’m building about Living Green, pleases me, yet I just keep working on it & working on it…. my hubby says: ‘You could make it public and continue to work on it. It doesn’t have to be finished and perfect before you release it.’ Sigh. What can I say? Over twenty five years as an Admin wore those perfectionist grooves pretty deep into me. Gotta learn to let go. Tolkien reminds me: ‘Around the corner there may wait, a secret garden or hidden gate’. Hugs to you Eve!

  3. 

    I have often thought that I’m so energetic about spreading joy is that I have to work hard to obtain and keep it.

  4. 

    Reblogged this on A Grateful Man and commented:
    One of my favorite bloggers is GinaV of Professions for P.E.A.C.E.. I enjoyed this article from her blog and think many of you will too. I believe that it’s basic message that “You teach best what you most need to learn” is a major reason I started the “A Grateful Man” blog. I knew I had much to learn and I thought sharing things with others including my own thoughts and those of others would be an excellent way for me to learn faster.

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      Thank you Russ! I am honored and delighted that you liked it enough to repost it. Many warm thanks.