Want to prosper? Be teachable.

April 11th, 2013

A teachable spirit is the beginning of knowledge.

A friend of mine who has shown in tangible ways what prospering can look like, with a development company and property holdings in many places, once told me how he started. In fact, it’s always how he starts. When he goes to a new area for possible development, he begins by asking questions. He doesn’t start by subtly letting others know how much he’s already acquired or succeeded. No, he takes the quiet approach, listening, learning, taking in what others are happy to share.

In any given session he comes out with far more useful information than if he’d done most of the talking. And a much better chance of prospering.

He’s learned the value of the proverb, Whoever heeds instruction prospers.*

It sounds easy but, in fact, it requires a certain humility, which isn’t always easy.

It’s a starting again from the bottom, a willingness to concede that, as amazing as it sounds, we may not know all there is to know.

I remember as a teenager developing the habit of responding to every statement I heard with, “I know.” I finally realized it was working against me. I was only defending my lack of knowledge and preventing any new knowledge coming in.

Happily, we can grow beyond our sophomore years. The Greeks saw all this clearly: sophos wise, moros foolish.

In a sense, we need to be as a child once again, always absorbing, always curious, always ready to be taught.

Here are some synonyms for a teachable spirit:
capable of being instructed,
apt to learn,

Personally I find all of these terms quite positive and attractive, terms I’d like to be known by. Indeed, I find them instructive.

In all things, in order to succeed, take the humble approach. Don’t be defending what you already know; be ready to learn what you don’t.

There’s much more out there of the latter kind.


* Proverbs 16:20


  1. Pastor Adam Barton Apr 11, 2013
    9:54 am

    Well said and couldn’t agree more. One of my favorite lessons from Proverbs.
    Thank you Hyatt,
    Pastor Adam Barton
    Akron, Ohio

  2. Doug Kyle Apr 11, 2013
    10:14 am

    I’m tempted to say, “I know.”
    But instead I’ll say, Teach me more. Keep writing. Thank you.

  3. Mary Apr 11, 2013
    12:22 pm

    Good timing on this email, Hyatt, as I’m about to participate in a trade show and asking questions of attendees is the best way to understand, rather than be understood or talking too much as many in selling positions are prone to be. In any case, the terms you listed above are those I know you for as well… except, the docile end of the spectrum leading towards submissiveness wouldn’t describe you – at least not in my painting class. Thank goodness!

  4. Scott Apr 11, 2013
    12:27 pm

    I am listening. Am I really?

  5. Scott Anderson Apr 11, 2013
    12:32 pm

    Thank you as always Hyatt.
    James had it right when he said” be swift to hear and slow to speak”
    Keep up the great insight!

  6. jcl Apr 11, 2013
    1:15 pm

    Very good, point well taken.

  7. Pil Ho Lee Apr 11, 2013
    4:10 pm

    Thank you Hyatt.

  8. Tim MacDonald Apr 11, 2013
    7:35 pm

    This is spot on Hyatt – we are having opportunity to experience this daily with our new venture – my prayer is this wisdom seeps deep into every cell in my body, so that it is who I am.


  9. Norm Apr 11, 2013
    10:36 pm

    Much like prayer. When we’re younger, it’s mostly about petition. As the years go on, praying becomes more about opening my heart and life to God, being still and listening and yielding. “In quietness and trust is my strength,” as spoken in Isaiah. Great point well made, Hyatt

  10. carmen Apr 13, 2013
    7:41 am

    Hyatt, so true. I guess we need to be like a child (open to learning) to enter the kingdom of heaven…

  11. Lisa Hoyt Apr 14, 2013
    9:36 pm

    Hyatt, this is so true. Thank you! I love to hear what others have to say because I always feel I don’t know everything. I always get a new perspective and most of the time things I did not think of! It is funny because there are people very close to me that feel they don’t need anyone and can figure it out better by themselves. I am of the other opinion. Now you have just confirmed it again! loved this! Thank you! Lisa