Teach Me Something

"Teach me something," he said.

That request came from a new friend. "Teach me something." It wasn't directed to me but rather to 10-year-old Kevin, who was a family friend sitting with me in the backseat of the man's car. My husband had stepped out of the car to attend a short meeting. The driver, John, said it while we waited. At first I thought he was trying to be funny. He wasn't. His spirit of intent was true and his wording was perfect.

When he said that to the bookish, quiet child he did not get an immediate response. So John persisted by asking about how school was going. He got a vague reply. Then he asked Kevin what his favorite subject was. "Math." "Okay," John said, "I need to know more about math because I have forgotten so much." Kevin deliberated and then asked him if he knew "how to add by nines." John said he didn't. So Kevin began giving his lesson enthusiastically, which was a surprising side of him I hadn't seen before.

Since we were guests at John's home he and I talked about this request he made more than once in my hearing. He was a man in his 30s and in outside sales. He explained that it was something he started saying when he called on clients. It had been so tempting to just fall into making routine sales calls followed by the usual "nothingnesses" of casual conversation. So, he started requesting, "Teach me something" and, sure enough, his clients obliged. He said he rounded out his knowledge of business, improved his golf game (through his ears), and even learned to make pie crust—and so much more.

In time he began to ask that even of strangers if the time seemed right.  He said, "Amazing what you can learn in a grocery line. Older ladies know all sorts of things I don't."

As some unknown person said, "You aren't ready for the answer until you are ready to ask the question."

Since then "Teach me something" has been a gateway to learning. I think of the lesson I got from just the principle of the request and I am grateful for it.

Ask it of someone of any age—anyone, and I hope you are treated to some nice lessons too.

by Elaine Ness, Life Coach