One Word Suggestion: Teachers

The point is, to be great at anything you have to keep learning. Always. And to be a great teacher you have to be a good student. Always.

Welcome to One Word Suggestion

Hosted by: Eran Thomson
This week's word is: Teachers

The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama 
Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

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Thanks for checking out the show notes.

This podcast is intentionally short and sweet, so don't expect too much from the notes. We will, of course, share links and details of things discussed in individual episodes as appropriate - and that's about it.

The main thing to know is every episode of this show starts with a one word suggestion, and there's no reason it shouldn't come from you.

As long as its not "dildo."

So give us your best, and in the meantime, thanks for listening.

Hey welcome to One Word Suggestion,

I’m your host Eran Thomson and this week’s word is… Teachers.
Welcome to the podcast, for those of you who don’t already know, every week I take one word, suggested by you, and use it as a leaping off point to explore the benefits of improv as they relate to life on and off the stage.
This week’s word, “teachers” was suggested by Kevin.
In the Dalai Lama's wonderful book, The Art of Happiness, he tells a story about Buddha and his annoying assistant. And I don’t remember exactly how it goes, but the gist of it is something like this: 
Buddha decides to head out on a long journey to spread his message of peace, love and meditation across the land, so he hires a porter to be his assistant along the way. And as it turns out the porter he hires is widely known to be the most cranky, lazy, miserable, and useless porter in the history of porters. 
And everywhere Buddha goes people scratch their bald monk heads in disbelief that the Buddha himself could have made what was so obviously a terrible choice. 
Finally, after months on the road, one of the monks can’t take it anymore and he asks Buddha, “why in the hell did you hire this annoying guy? There are so many better porters!” And Buddha says...

“Oh him? He’s my teacher.”
In this instance the lessons were patience, tolerance, empathy and more - all good things to learn. The good news is when it comes to learning and applying the principles of improv, you don’t need to be as disciplined as Buddha, and you’re pretty unlikely to encounter an annoying teacher, especially at LMA. But that doesn't change the fact that every person you meet has something to teach you - no matter how annoying - or lovely - they are. And no matter how much you already know - or think you know.
You just have to be willing to learn. 

To benefit from great teachers, you need to be a great student, and, sticking with the theme here, there’s a Zen Buddhist term I love called “Shoshin” which means "beginner's mind." Which essentially just means having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level. 
A friend of mine recently got a trick bicycle that goes left when you turn the handlebars right and right when you turn them left just so he could re-experience the beginner's mind state at a visceral level. 
The point is, to be great at anything you have to keep learning. Always. And to be a great teacher you have to be a good student. Always. 
One of our advisors at LMA is Jonathan Pitts - a guy who was at The Second City in Chicago from the beginning, a guy who ran The Chicago Improv Festival for 20 years, a guy who makes his living travelling the world teaching improv (and eating cake) - and even he still takes classes.
So I'm always shocked by students who come out of our program after completing a few levels and think they’re done. They’re an improviser now. Tick. Done. Bye!
Here are some facts: You can’t learn without patience and practice. You might not need Malcolm Gladwell’s ten thousand hours, but it’s something to strive for if you want to be great. 
You can’t learn without listening and, ironically, improv can teach you how to become an active listener. 
You can’t learn without curiosity and an open mind. And if you’re listening to or reading this, then you can probably tick that one off. 
And lastly, you can’t learn without making mistakes - which is why at LMA we teach people to celebrate failure. 
Like Thomas Edison said about his many attempts to create the light bulb: 

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work."
As for me personally, all I know is, the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know. So if you’re up for it, come teach me something! Just try not to be annoying about it.
So that’s my take on teachers. Thanks for the great suggestion, Kevin.
If you want to suggest a word for next week, or add your perspective, drop me a note in the comments or better yet, write a review and include your word there.
I’m making one of these every week, for a year, so definitely subscribe, like, share, and all that jazz. 
And in the meantime, if you’re interested in improv for personal growth, professional achievement, or just for fun, my suggestion is to get yourself into an improv class or book a corporate training workshop for your team. 
You can learn all about LMA’s programs at
Thanks for listening.
The ideas, observations, and perspectives shared here are mine alone. 
I’d love to hear yours in the comments, or better yet in a review.

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