I am still learning.

It’s a quote attributed to the great mind of Michelangelo, though we read it in Seneca’s 76th letter to Lucilius as well:

“Proceed, then, Lucilius, and hasten, lest you yourself be compelled to learn in your old age, as in the case with me”.

Those who never stop learning have power — most importantly, the power to continuously reinvent themselves, to find purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in life.

How do you do that? By being teachable, by turning into the person who isn’t afraid to learn and say goodbye to their comfort zone; mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Benefits of being teachable

By being teachable, you will…

  • Learn faster and better
  • Get to know yourself
  • Make learning enjoyable
  • Get better at problem solving
  • Make better decisions
  • Grow as a person

How to be more teachable

1. Be humble

It’s difficult to let go of what we know, or rather, let go of the idea that what we know is all there is.

The enemy here is our own ego, our sense of self-importance (as big or small as it may be), which is fragile and doesn’t like to accept there is more. 

So, step number one: be humble, and don’t let pride get in the way. Realize there is an infinite amount of things/skills you can learn, and that the journey will never end.

2. Be empty

Our mind is a container, and to be teachable you want to make sure it’s as empty as possible. If “empty” sounds paradoxical, feel free to use the word “open” instead.

There is virtually no limit to the amount of information our brain can store, yet to receive information you need room, and that’s not going to happen if there are too many distractions.

To be teachable, learn to pause, to love silence, to let go of unnecessary distractions. In other words, be mindful and focused.

3. Read/listen twice

Probably the most important tip of this list. Repetition is the mother of skill, so use it to your advantage.

Eventually, we all forget that history lesson, that password, that foreign word etc. unless the same experience of learning/doing is repeated (the exception would be if strong feelings are associated with it).

To be teachable, be willing to read your favorite books, listen to your favorite podcasts/videos, ask about the same topic twice or three, four, five times. Very few people do that.

4. Be curious

As mentioned, knowledge is infinite, so there’s always something — an insight, discovery, experience, realization — that you don’t know. However, you don’t know that you don’t know, and that itself is an issue.

Being teachable means being curious, and vice versa. Explore the world and let the whole world, and everything and everyone that’s in it, teach you things.

You’ll never realize that you didn’t know that you didn’t know until you actually see more of the world and ask new, better questions. Speaking of which…

5. Ask question

And ask deep ones. Ask until you get to the core of whatever it is that you want to know. The five whys technique, although basic, is a good example of this.

Our tendency to always take things for granted and never inquire stems from the healthy, logical desire to 1) have certainties and 2) focus on what’s actually important to us.

However, it doesn’t help when it comes to learning new things and becoming a new person. To be teachable, ask why. Question what you see around you. And go beyond the surface.

6. Be fearless

Unconsciously, we all desire to learn, know, and see more… only, we want the experience to be flawless, painless, perfect. No such thing in the real world, unfortunately.

To be teachable, you have to be okay with making mistakes and realize that we learn through mistakes, through doing something for the tenth time, through being imperfect.

Be fearless. Fail faster. Don’t let your ego interfere. Your current mistakes are the process — don’t fear them, embrace them.

7. Stick to it

Have a more or less clear idea of what you want to learn or improve in your life? Then turn pro — be dedicated to that one thing.

Anyone could be interested in a certain topic or skill. But then interest and motivation usually fade after a while. If they don’t, you may have found your path.

To be teachable you have to be committed. To be committed you have to love the journey. Once you discover what you (really) like, being teachable becomes natural.

8. Sleep, eat, repeat

This goes back to the absolute basics, but it’s worth writing it here. You’ll never have a clear mind if you don’t take care of your body in the first place.

Number one: sleep. Number two: nutrition. It doesn’t end there, though. Think of your posture, emotional wellbeing, self-realization, self-knowledge.

Once you make your health a priority, and approach health from a holistic point of view, then you’ll naturally allow your mind to perform and learn at its best.

9. Be patient

Interestingly, the human brain does not fully develop until we hit our mid-twenties (as explained here).

However, your 26th birthday doesn’t mark the end of the process. It turns out that our own ability to e.g. make important decisions and plan things in life doesn’t fully develop until later.

Some say it happens in our 30s. Some say in our 40s. Whatever the case, it takes time to learn… to learn. Be patient and never stop — being teachable isn’t a goal, but a process.