I was looking at an online news story where someone made some kind of blunder, and it was referred to as a Teachable Moment.
As I read it, I gave a little smile inward. Aren’t they all teachable moments?
Of course they are! And those who choose to approach the consequences of their thoughts, feelings and behavior as teachable moments are the people who live the most fulfilled lives, and enrich the lives of others.
Of course this article should end right here. What I just wrote is obvious to a second grader, much less an adult.
So just for fun, let’s look at that same news story. This one happened to be about President Obama and the controversy around an African American woman who didn’t do her best with a white farmer she was supposed to help.
Plenty of teachable moments. A lesson to be learned in public accountability. Another one in healing and forgiveness. And another in not jumping to conclusions before you get all the facts. The teachable moments go on and on.
And of course some will take them and move forward. Not just those directly involved, but those of us who read the story.
And of course many more will use this whole incident to validate and justify their opinions on individuals or groups of people. That applies to all points of view, not just one. The comment section at the end of the story is proof of that.
Of course the people who comment on these stories are disproportionately part of the “Peanut Gallery.” You know, the ones who like to spew hatred, racism, misogyny and all kinds of weirdness through the safety of anonymous posting. Not all, but many.
But the point remains. Everything that happens to us is a Teachable Moment.
I’ve spent much of the last 20 years training beginning counselors as a supervising mentor through college masters degree programs. These are people who are bright, caring and genuinely committed to helping people.
And like any other beginning professional, they create plenty of Teachable Moments. Some little ones, like letting a client go on too long during a conversation.
And some whoppers, like missing an important deadline, or failing to protect the client’s safety when they’re in danger.
One way of looking at them is to call them mistakes. And they were. Damage was done that needed to be undone.
And in one or two cases the Teachable Moment was severe enough to have me think counseling was the wrong profession for this person.
But the emotion we bring to it – the way we interpret our Teachable Moments – is the thing that separates being a slave to them from learning, growing and getting better.
I guarantee, before too long you will have a Teachable Moment. May not make the Internet, but you’ll have one. Count on it! I’ve had a couple in the last 24 hours.
What you do with them – whether you call it a mistake, or even a character flaw – or you recognize them as a funny, loving moment to get bigger, stronger and full of love…that one’s completely up to you.
Seize The Day!