by Marsha Schearer

I’ve heard it said before, but it bears repeating: all the good advice in the world won’t help if you don’t have a teachable spirit.

Being teachable is not so much about how much you know or what you know as it is about attitude.It is the desire to listen, learn, and apply.It is the desire to grow.It is the willingness to learn, unlearn, and then relearn.A basketball coach once said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

In the workplace, you may have employees who are directly under your leadership or employees you could influence even if you are not their boss.You can be a positive influence by having a teachable spirit in the work place.If you are a leader and you stop learning, then you stop leading.But if you remain teachable and keep learning, you will be able to continue making an impact as a leader.As workers you will continue to succeed if you keep expecting to learn then striving to learn what you have been taught.This is a teachable spirit.

Listen to Others.

Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” A teachable spirit is having a listening ear—not one who simply likes to talk or hear herself talk thinking she always has something to say or add to the conversation.If the time arrives when you think, appear, act, or say, “I have arrived,” you may have arrived, but you showed up without a teachable spirit.

While working a summer job as a junior in high school, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was being taught how to have a teachable spirit.I worked in a gift store at a large entertainment complex with a few other high school kids.Our boss was very detailed and gave exact instructions how she wanted the shelves stocked along with where the new merchandise was to be displayed.However to me and the other workers, it never seemed she had the best ideas.For instance, when the new items came in, we felt it best to highlight them in a place close to the front, at eye level, and with a sign for advertisement.

The manager always seemed to want them displayed in a corner in the back of the store or on a bottom shelf.Her desires simply drove us crazy at times! A few other employees would not follow instructions and put the new items where they thought best.Some would not put up displays without having a heated discussion with the manager.

Another teen and I knew we needed the job and wanted to keep the paycheck, so we did what the manager asked.No, we didn’t really agree with her methods, but again we wanted the job.I truly didn’t think I was having a teachable spirit, I was working on saving money for college.The next summer following my senior year, I received a call from the same place asking me to return for another summer.I accepted only to discover on my first day of work that the one other girl who followed instructions and I were the only previous employees to return.I ask the manager why the other summer help from last year did not return.She replied, “They weren’t teachable!” This was my first real lesson on having a teachable spirit, and without knowing, I had learned a lot.By the way, the store manager must have been teachable because sales were higher as she began displaying merchandise differently!

Compliment Others.

I Thessalonians 5:11, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” Many times in the workplace, very little encouragement, compliments, or even just a pat on the back are given to employees.Often times co-workers do not encourage or compliment one to another for fear that it will make others look good, and they will look bad.However, a teachable spirit doesn’t mind complimenting others because the person with a teachable spirit thinks more highly of others than herself.The teachable spirit has a selfless spirit in the workplace.This thought leads me to my next point.

Let Down Your Defense.

Luke 14:11, “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” A teachable spirit is quick to see her own faults and take responsibility for them.So often, if an employee’s fault or problem is brought to her attention, the first thing she does is to defend or excuse it rather than take responsibility for the error.

If a mistake is made or correction is given in the workplace try to find a way to make it better.Correct your mistake.Don’t react in frustration; accept the fact that you have made an error and try to do the job differently or better.It is sad that many of today’s employees may listen to the correction but choose to do nothing about it to better themselves for themselves, for their job, or for their boss.The person who chooses to do nothing lacks a teachable spirit.

Before getting married, I worked ten years in the dental field.As a registered dental assistant and an office manager, I trained others for new positions in the office.Many times I would have a co-worker argue about anything correction she received or make up reasons why the job was not done properly.Not only was this co-worker not showing a teachable spirit, but neither did she have a pleasant spirit to work along beside.You know what? Those people generally and eventually lost their job or were constantly job hopping.I call that kind of an employee one who is never able to stay at one job very long.What a poor testimony and bad reputation!

Do You Have a Teachable Spirit?

To find out if you have a teachable spirit, ask yourself the following questions:

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?

If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, then you have room to grow to be more teachable.You need to listen more, soften your attitude, give compliments, and learn humility by taking correction.Strive to have a teachable spirit in the workplace.