A mentor told me years ago the importance of staying FAT: Faithful, Available, and Teachable. He said that more than having any amazing ability, it was important to be faithful with what I have been given, to be available to serve, and be teachable to learn.
I try to remember this now. Most of my law school classes are composed of questions and discussions. Sometimes, it can feel like the discussions are going nowhere, or that a question is totally irrelevant, or there’s no resolution at the end of class. There is a temptation to give up in frustration and disengage, to stop caring.
Yet I try to keep teachability in mind. The truth is, we are engaging in hard questions that don’t always have easy answers. Part of the journey is learning how to think through these questions, even if there’s no resolution.
Furthermore, this is good training for work. There will be plenty of times in the future when I’ll be in a room in a seemingly pointless conversation, except instead of a classroom at school, I will be in a conference with a client. Just like in class, I might be confused on what the client is trying to communicate; unlike in class, waiting until the conference is over doesn’t solve the problem. These mystifying, confusing, and sometimes mind-numbing classroom discussions are an opportunity to learn forbearance. After all, even patience takes practice; it doesn’t come quickly.
Ultimately, teachability is more than a passive amenability to learning. Teachability is not just “I’m willing to learn, but only if the information is interesting, it’s presented in an easily digestible manner, and it’s not too much work for me.” Teachability requires an investment in my end, for it is the fruit of the seed of humility, which is something I’m still learning.