it is easy to focus on things you can’t control. on the twists of fate and circumstance, it is easy – but not very useful.
i find the greatest skill to work – to focus on improving – is being a good student.
more than anything else that is what i strive for. that is what i try to encourage in anyone who is looking to train or to improve in any way. learning how to learn, how to ask questions, how to seek answers, how to nurture the goodwill of a teacher. it is vital to understand your role – your ability to influence a situation. to recognize the tools at hand, and to make use of them.
one of the most important lessons i have learned is to put yourself into the midst of the teacher you wish to learn from. chances are, anyone you would like to learn from is practiced at their craft, and because of that: busy. pestering a busy person who loves their work is a really quick way to build ill will. if you want the time of an accomplished individual (or anyone really) then show them that you care. ask a researched question. offer insight or simply offer grunt work. the thing to remember is that wanting is easy, that teaching is costly. simply put: be worth your cost, and find a way to convey that from the jump.
access to a teacher is valuable, occasionally priceless. recognize this and act accordingly. listen. think of those early interactions a job interview that costs you a hundred dollars a minute to sit at. dont waste their time. ego (usually) has no place at that table. you are asking someone to do you a favor, to potentially change your life forever: fucking act like it.
this does not mean grovel – for any teacher worth their salt has no time or tolerance for such behavior. honesty is efficient. thanks is welcome but does not assist a good teacher in their goals, instead work towards being a peer. push yourself to be the type of person that can push them to be better. ask direct questions and listen to indirect answers. do homework, and ask for clarity. take notes during conversations and follow up. watch your mouth, and never promise something you wont deliver.
we talk so much about things that are “simple but not easy” – being a good student is the epitome of that sentiment. it is an attainable goal. a lifelong practice. no circumstance can rob you of this. no-one can take this from you. it is wholly within your power to be a good student.
or to not.
below are 2 conversations that were recorded during the summer of 2018 with a couple individuals who have taught me truly priceless lessons. two individuals who make me better by helping me practice being a good student, and by constantly calling themselves to do the same.
bonus link: “no I won’t mentor you“