We Teach Best What We Most Need To Learn
And ain’t that the damn truth... In fact, I think this is the invisible subheading lying beneath the word ‘hypocrite’.
Okay so let me give you the story behind this one. Because you know there’s always a story.
I was listening to a podcast whilst cleaning. Is there anything more enjoyable than making a space clean and tidy, doing something with your hands that doesn’t require much thinking – leaving your mind free to listen to a great interview?
Okay, maybe there are quite a few other things that could be more enjoyable, but it’s up there you have to admit.
The topic didn’t initially interest me overly. Sure I like to think I’ve got style – but definitely not in an expensive haute couture Hollywood kind of a way. So I wasn’t actually expecting much from the interview.
And don’t great things happen when we have zero expectations…
It was fascinating. I didn’t realise there was so much depth and significance behind style. Stacy was talking about colours, shapes and body types yes. But her main topic was self-confidence.
Hell, can’t we all do with a bit more of that.
She also shared some of her personal hang-ups – phases of anorexia, chronic psoriasis, extreme narcissism (self diagnosed) that became the flip side of the low self-esteem seesaw.
As the world of fashion goes Stacy London could hardly be more successful. She’s been a Vogue editor, hosted fashion TV, styled Hollywood’s rich and famous and published books.
Yet she said she felt like a phoney because although her core mission was to help clients / viewers / readers feel better about themselves through style, she often felt pretty crap about herself.
Then a friend told her: “We teach what we need to learn.”
When I heard those words I dropped the bed sheet I was busy folding into a hospital corner, and stood up with a big stupid grin of enlightenment.
Up until that point the interview was entertaining, interesting and unexpectedly profound – but that line was like a slap in the back of my head. One of those aha moments that motivational speakers are gagging to induce seas of faces to experience.
And it’s exactly what I needed to hear.
‘Authenticity’ has been a buzzword for the past few years. As though it’s something magical that we need to be coached to achieve.
But don’t we all basically want to be authentic? I don’t imagine there are many of us that get up in the morning and say to ourselves, “I’m going to be a big fake today.”
Being truly authentic takes courage, honesty and persistence – because just like the weather we’re always changing.
And that’s what makes things really tricky. Especially when it comes to teaching. This might show up in a number of places. Standing at the front of a room running a class or workshop, giving advice to a friend, compiling strategic recommendations for a client.
For me it show’s up in my writing.
I don’t want my writing to be all about navel gazing. I want it to be worth your while. I want you to be able to take something away from it. Some meaning, inspiration, consolation, commiseration. Something.
But it’s not easy because I’m not always all the things I say I am. I don’t always follow my own advice.
And because I DO want to shoot for authentic, it stops me from doing / saying / writing / creating a lot of things.
So when I heard those words, things fell into place - like a good game of Tetris - (as my sister would say). Stuff made sense. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Leaving a space for things and creating.
In his wonderful little book Illusions – The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Richard Bach wrote, “We teach best what we most need to learn.”
Let that sink in, and let that also give you and me the permission to open our mouths and speak, pick up the pen and write, take the paintbrush and create; whatever wants to come out. Because that is a message for us as creators, from the Creator for anyone else who may need to hear, read, see it – and those people will know who the are.
Leonie Orton is a writer, editor and marcomms consultant. She'll create communication mediums in the shape of words, graphics and webs for your business, connecting you with the people who need you. When she's not head down with this, she's teaching yoga, playing with flowers, growing vegetables and being a mother. Get in touch by email, facebook orsubscribe to her weekly blog.