Be Teachable

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” -Proverbs 19:20

The weakest part of each person is where he or she thinks himself or herself the wisest. In the words of the great basketball coach John Wooden, “It’s what we learn after we think we know it all that really counts.” Those who are teachable and continually seek to improve and grow rarely contract the disease of pride.

Benjamin Franklin taught, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” (Complied by Rev. Frederick S. Sill, A Year Book of Colonial Times, (New York: E.P. Dutton and Company, 1906) p. 15). Education and transportation are tools that get us to our destination. Over the years transportation has moved from the horse and buggy to trains, cars, and airplanes. Each new mode of transportation has enabled us to reach our destination in a shorter period of time. In the 1800s it took months to cross the plains to the west. Today, with improved tools, we can make the same journey in a matter of hours. Education is also a tool that can speed up your journey to financial independence and prosperity. Studies of those with a high net worth have revealed that they spend significant time each month on financial education (Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko, The Millionaire Next Door, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p. 48, 71).  Studies also show there is direct correlation between the amount of time spent on financial education and net worth. The more you learn, the more you earn.

General Edward Braddock

During the French and Indian War, the British General Edward Braddock, age 60 at the time, employed the help of a Virginia militia. When one of the young 23-year-old Virginian soldiers who was well acquainted with the Indian mode of warfare modestly offered his advice, the haughty Braddock said, “What! An American buskin teach a British General how to fight!” (B.J Losing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, (New York: George F. Colledge & Brother, 1848) p. 167). Braddock did not heed the advice and the British suffered a disastrous defeat and General Braddock was wounded by a shot through the right arm and into his lung. Following the injury to General Braddock, that same 23-year-old, with no official position in the chain of command, was able to lead and maintain some order and formed a rear guard, which allowed them to evacuate and eventually disengage. This earned him the title of “Hero of the Monongahela.” General Braddock was carried off the field by George Washington, the soldier whose advice he had rejected. Braddock died on July 13, 1755, four days after the battle. Before he died, Braddock left Washington the blood stained sash of his uniform. Washington carried the sash with him for the remainder of his life. Perhaps he carried the sash as a reminder of the cost of pride and of the necessity of being humble and teachable if he was to be successful in his efforts. Had Braddock listened to the advice of young George Washington, his life may have been saved.

George Washington was teachable and spent time each day reading. During his lifetime, Washington accumulated a library of more than 700 books, a great many which he studied closely. Washington’s step-granddaughter, Nelly Custis, wrote to one of Washington’s early biographers saying, “It was his custom to retire to his library at nine or ten o’clock, where he remained an hour before he went to his chamber. He always arose before the sun, and remained in his library until called to breakfast.”

This was a guest post by Cameron C. Taylor, author of the book Does Your Bag Have Holes? 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom.