By Terri Gillespie
One who heeds discipline is on the path of life, but whoever ignores correction goes astray. Proverbs 10:17, TLV
The deadline for the Genesis Contest looms. Pre-published writers are busy checking and double-checking their submissions to be sure they meet the “guidelines.” One way to prepare is to seek others to critique that precious manuscript. The local ACFW chapter is a great place to begin, but really there’s a step before that—and it applies to all of us.
The proverb above highlights the infamous “D” word—Discipline. There are two ways discipline is applied: 1) by someone else, or 2) by us. In either case, it boils down to: Are we teachable?
Most of us would probably say we are open to correction. Or hope we are. But, the challenge comes when we’re in situations that test how teachable we are. Contests are an excellent way to do this.
How to Respond to Correction—Choosing Teachability
Being teachable is a mindset, yes, but sometimes we need assistance in training ourselves how—how to choose a response that is different from our usual one. I’ve been at the Kindergarten-level of teachability for an embarrassingly long time, but here are a few tips that have worked for me:
- Be aware of our strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of our weaknesses will either make us defensive or eager to learn more. Someone once said, “Identify the smartest person in the room and pay attention to them.” I would add: “Assume it’s not us.” Choose to learn from someone stronger than me.
- Find a way to comfortably admit when we’re wrong. Oh, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? What helps me is to begin with, “You’re right!” Then summarize briefly what was said. It’s kind of cheating because I don’t actually say I’m wrong—but I affirm that I now know the “right” and move on. Eventually, I may get around to saying, “I was wrong about such-and-such.” Hopefully, eventually, I will choose to just say, “I was wrong” right away. Choose to find a way to admit when I’m wrong.
- Focus on finding the solution, not on being right. When we’re able to flip the switch from being the know-it-all to being a facilitator, we create a cooperative environment. Sometimes, when we step back and let others shine, we can actually accomplish more. And oddly enough, it feels good. Choose to be a facilitator.
- Learn how it feels to hold “too tightly” to being right. Over the years, I’ve learned to recognize when I’m holding on to being right. I feel tense. It’s difficult for me to listen. My heart rate increases. My face flushes. If I’m sensing one or more of these symptoms, I back down by shutting my mouth, sitting back (or backing up a step), and begin really listening. Sometimes I’m actually right. However, by not holding tightly, I can remain open and am better able to discuss without emotion. Choose to let go.
These are a few tips that have had a pretty good success rate for me. I’d love to hear yours, because honestly, we can use all the help we can get. And, remember, we’re not alone. The Creator of the Universe is in our corner to help us.
May we choose to be teachable, my friends. And God bless you and your writing!How to Improve Your Teachability Muscle @TerriGMavens #ACFWBlogs #writetip #writing #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Terri Gillespie is VP of the NW Georgia ACFW Chapter and hopes to improve on how she receives correction. Her first traditionally published book was Making Eye Contact with God—A Weekly Women’s Devotional. She writes Wisdom’s Journey, a daily Proverbs blog because she needs it. Member: ACFW, CAN, AWASA