The week before I finished first grade, my teacher called my mom to my class for a meeting. Mrs. Post was tall and looked like Beatrice Arthur from the Golden Girls with the same deep voice. And she never smiled. It seemed like she didn’t her job very much or maybe she just didn’t like me. I sat on mama’s lap while my teacher proceeded to tell her that I was very social and sweet to the other children but would probably never be suited very well for academics. She didn’t say I was dumb but that’s what it felt like.
I don’t even remember the interaction very well but something she said must have lodged into my little first grade brain because I have spent the the last 40 years being a perpetual student, maybe secretly hoping to prove her wrong. I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t actively learning something and as a matter of fact, as soon as I graduated from medical school, I entertained the idea of law school. I just didn’t want school to be over.
I didn’t realize then that it never has to be over, even if we’re not earning a degree while we do it.
Learning keeps us young and engaged in life and well, it keeps us from becoming prideful—because there’s nothing like ongoing education to show you how much you still don’t know.
(Side note: I once watched three hours of teaching videos on how to salsa dance. Yes, I did. Please, for the love of all things proper and beautiful, NEVER ask me to demonstrate.)
I think the key to being a good student of anything (and especially life) is to approach it with humility. Even when I think I know something, I try to submit myself to the process. I’m taking an online class right now and it’s tempting to want to skip a few steps when I feel like it’s something I already know. But I’m forcing myself to go slow and really listen.
Learning to listen is a skill that we all can improve. I’ve been teaching myself for years to ask people lots of questions and really listen to them when they answer. I’m a little better at it than I was last year but I so want to be a better listener, a better observer, a better learner, and a better student of life.
Inevitably when I do that, I find myself learning a different way to look at things—even things I thought I was already knowledgable about or good at.
For instance, I’ve been writing my whole life. I’ve been to writer’s conferences and taken courses and read probably a hundred books on writing. But when I was writing my book, I hit a roadblock and had to hire help. In fact, over the past three years, I’ve paid two different experts to help me, forfeiting a good portion of my book advance in order to learn what it takes to write a good memoir. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Because even if I know some things about writing, I didn’t know how to write memoir.
All that to say, never stop learning. And never stop submitting yourself to the humility it takes to be a good student.
That’s why I’ve loved being a part of the Hope*Writer’s community—a community of like minded people who want to continue learning from others.
Today, Hope Writer’s is hosting a free writer’s summit and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the writing and publishing process from people who might be just five minutes ahead of you. You can watch 12 interviews (including mine with the Nester) of writer’s as they talk about their writing process, publishing, launching, social media and all the tricky stuff involved when you have a message that you want to share with the world.
I had SO MUCH FUN doing this interview and I hope you enjoy learning from all my trials!
Click this link and get all 12 interviews but hurry, because they’re only available for this week!