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You're Never Too Old to Learn; And You're Never Too Young to Teach

Mar 24, 2024

"Commit yourself to life-long learning.  The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.”

                                                                                                   - Brian Tracy


As I am writing this, I am reminded of a conference of entrepreneurial business leaders I attended in Dallas, several years ago. I was honored to be a keynote speaker at the event as well as share my corporate board breaking experience with those looking to “breakthrough” their fears and limiting beliefs and create the life and businesses they desire. 


I have attended several business events like this during time as a professional martial arts school owner.  The events I attended in the past were full of great ideas, strategies and inspirational messages being shared and this event was no different. 


As in my past experiences, it always brightens my soul to watch people who are new to their businesses be so inspired and have their eyes opened to all of the new ways they can look at their businesses and their lives. 


While the new folks are the most obvious to see the impact in, I am always curious in watching those that have been around for a while and observe how they take part in these types of educational events. 


At this particular conference, seated just two chairs down from me during the general sessions, was a man who had over forty years’ experience as real estate entrepreneur who had generated millions of dollars in his career and now was the business mentor for the organization. 


I was so struck that during each presentation, he watched and listened intently, audibly voiced his agreement when he heard a point he found interesting, and took copious notes while he listened to each presenter. 


Here was someone who could have presented or taught most if not all that was being shared by presenters and he was the one who was the most engaged as anyone in the room.  I so respected this and found this to be a great example of what one of the other keynoters had shared during his talk when he said,



“You’re never too old to learn and you’re never too young to teach.


Having observed this gentleman, who had achieved so much success in his career, still so enthusiastically play the role of the student truly inspired me.  It caused me to pause and reflect on how I carry myself in these situations and how I may have an opportunity to up-level my practice of being a student again. 


Here are four practices I believe we all can focus more on embodying when in situations where it serves us to play the role of student.


  • Be Present – This may not sound like such a big deal but consider how many distractions we have in our everyday lives. I know that during this conference, there were many times I found myself glancing at my cell phone during presenter’s shares.  I was not doing this out of necessity, as I had no important calls or messages I was expecting, but rather out of habit.  It was an unconscious act I had conditioned myself to perform – almost like the dog salivating when he hears the bell.  I encourage all of us, whether it is in a large conference or a one-on-one with a teacher, colleague or friend to remove the distractions and be truly present.


  • Be Curious – Interestingly enough, curiosity is not something that is created outside of us, but rather is generated from within. When we set the intention to BE curious, our minds will begin to focus on the finer details of what we are observing.  In doing that, we can see things we may never have heard or noticed before, which brings a whole new aspect of learning to our encounters.  I have found in my experience that those that are most curious in their interactions are usually the people who are experiencing the greatest amount of success in their lives.  Where can we all be more curious, even in the mundane practices?  My sense is, when we do, a whole new world will open up to us.


  • Be Enthusiastic - Bringing a high level of enthusiasm to any learning experience can dramatically impact our ability to stay connected, increase of level of alertness and our ability to absorb important information. Enthusiasm heightens our senses and allows us to be excited to observe and learn more.  Although we may not think so, just like curiosity, enthusiasm can be self-generated.  Choosing to be enthusiastic about learning something new not only can increase our levels of presence and curiosity but can also increase our ability to stay focused and absorb more of the information being shared.


  • Be Courageous - Sometimes embarking on new endeavors may be scary.  The fear of making a mistake, looking bad or embarrassing ourselves can be absolutely paralyzing, if we let it.  However, our greatest growth is usually right on the other side of our comfort zones.  In the martial arts, even the most experiened of practictioners need to be willing to be "white belt" at times.  The root of the word courage is "coure" or "heart".  Be willing to lead with your heart when embarking upon a new venture and let your mind, limiting beliefs and thoughts step aside so you can allow yourself to grow and expand.


This week, friends, I challenge all of us to truly embrace our roles as students, regardless of who we can learn from.  Remember, our level of attentiveness is a self-generated choice and can be the difference in being mildly and fully open and engaged. 


Because remember, you’re never too old to learn and you’re never too young to teach.



Chris Natzke

Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching



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