The lesson began with a story* about a young martial artist who has an opportunity to travel to learn from his idol, the greatest martial artist of the time. Upon the young man's arrival, the master pours them both a cup of tea. He drinks it and listens patiently as the young man tells everything he knows about martial arts and demonstrates his skills. Finally, the master offers the young man more tea and starts pouring. The young man protests suddenly, pointing out that his cup is already full. He hadn't drunk a sip.
As the cup overflowed, the master said to the student that he must learn to empty his cup. You must drink all your tea in order to put new, fresh tea in the cup. The young man was so busy showing off and telling what he already knew that he never asked a single question or listened to what the master had to teach him.
This story illustrates the importance of being open to learning. As a teacher, I spend a lot of time explaining, describing, informing, instructing, but this lesson from eighth grade has constantly reminded me to also look for every opportunity to listen and learn.
For example, I would consider myself a decent cook. I am confident in the kitchen, and I've done my share of chopping, grilling, and marinating. But when I took my cooking class last week, I put aside my background knowledge and opened myself up to learn as much as possible. I improved my knife-holding skills, learned how to select the best knife for different cutting jobs, and learned how to grill tuna and salmon (warm all the way through, but not cooked all the way through). I took the chance to absorb as much information as possible.
On the other hand, one of my classmates, who practically introduced himself and told me he worked for years in a restaurant in the same breath, didn't exactly empty his cup. While he was a nice guy, he spent the majority of the class describing how his restaurant used to do things and asking "clarifying" questions that really only showed off his knowledge. The class certainly ranged in ability, but this classmate didn't seem to be there to learn.
Lately, I've found myself in lots of "empty your cup" situations. As I study for my personal training certification exam, I realize how broad my knowledge about fitness and health was. I thought I was creating fantastic workouts for myself, but now I know that a lot more goes into creating a solid routine than just creative combinations.
Today I met with my teaching buddy for this year. Since I've been teaching for three years, it would be easy to nod and smile and take her advice for granted. But I am so grateful and eager to soak up as much as I can! She told me about the community where I'll be teaching, shared her syllabus and other materials, and gave me a quick tour of the campus. I've taught 9th and 11th grade before, but I know I can always improve, and I'm so glad I have a mentor and friend to help me in my new position.
It's funny how certain lessons really apply throughout the entirety of our lives. I think it applies everywhere; I can always learn about people, from people, about other cultures and other people's beliefs, about how to create a better life. I hope I can continue to empty my cup and learn from others.
|If I don't empty my cup, Scout knocks it over and spills my tea.|
What's an area in life where you feel you could learn more?
I mentioned health and fitness, cooking, and teaching above. I feel like I could name a hundred things in which I have a little knowledge but about which I would love to learn more.
Note: For those interested in participating in this month's PBFingers book club, the selection for August has been announced! We'll be reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Looks chilling! I'll post my review on or before August 31. Past BLWB reviews include:
And for a full list of all past PBF book reviews, click here.
*Forgive me, Mr. Richards, if I didn't get all the details quite right!