Monday, July 25, 2011

The Voice of Student

God bless our teachers. Many of my very dearest friends are teachers and I might have been a grade school teacher under different circumstances. I respect and admire the many who teach our children. Some of us are eager learners from the beginning. Others, like me, are less than eager in their youth but gain a thirst for knowledge as they grow older. As I look back over my life I realize that we are all lifelong learners...whether we like it or not. The question is: does your voice encourage you to be a lifelong student? Like the "know it all" in the movie Polar Express, sometimes learning is lost to us in our need to impress others with our vast knowledge or experience.

Being a student or someone who learns implies stewardship. It implies a willingness to learn and the humbling awareness that we don’t know everything. We all learn along the way what works for us…but even the model-T would never have become a Jaguar had inventors not assumed there was more to learn. I was a model-T for a long time, limping my way along. I resisted being a steward to learning in many ways. There were times my bravado simply got the best of me. Today, I am like a dry sponge that thirsts to learn. Age has taught me discernment and I know that sometimes advice must be sifted through, like river sand is sifted to find gold. But I do believe everyone has something to teach us if we can only be willing students.

I have discovered over the years that it didn’t matter whether I was in my youthful bravado or in my mature arrogance. When I refuse to listen or learn (regardless of my age) I have finally figured out that I cut off my success at its knees. When I have not been a good student to life, to others, or to those who care for me, I have sometimes chocked my potential to the point that the river of my success flowed (if it flowed at all) through a straw instead of an aqueduct.  Discretion is the better part of valor…that is why it is wise to seek out others who live by your own virtues and goals rather than to learn through the lessons of hard knocks.  By deliberately choosing your mentors (or listening to your boss or superior’s in your job) you actually have a better chance of honing your skills and paving a highway to a better life. You may leave the job in time, but you will never lose the wisdom and lessons. I wasted a lot of time thinking I knew my way…and while I ended up on the right highway in the end … traveling in the direction I wanted to go… I could have saved myself a lot of detours and dark alleys had I been a more willing student along the way!  

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