We Teach Best What We Most Need to Learn

Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about self-worth, growth, perseverance, judgement, and forgiveness. Really, when I sit down to write, I take an inventory of where I’m currently feeling challenged, what I’ve learned recently, or what I’m curious to explore more deeply. As a writer, I play the mixed role of both student and teacher. As student, I write to unpack a situation, an experience, an encounter, a feeling, or a relationship with the goal of growing and understanding something about myself. As a teacher, I write sometimes to provide specific advice or steps, but often to simply serve as a mirror through which others can see themselves; their own story, experiences, or struggle.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of writing in “student” mode, working to understand situations where the available or “rational” answer didn’t make sense to my inner-guide. I knew I was being called to practice patience; that things would be clear in due time, but I hoped staying in my curious “student” mode would be a signal to the Universe that I was ready and willing to learn (...you know, on my clock, not the Universe's).

The funny thing is, some of our best learning can actually be done in the role of “teacher.” There’s this great quote by Richard Bach, “We teach what we most need to learn.” So, while I sat in my story of needing to be a student, the Universe had another plan.


A few days ago, a young woman reached out to me asking if I might have time to hold a brief coaching call with her to help her through some blocks. I was quite surprised that she’d wanted to speak with me as we didn’t know each other well at all; we were merely acquaintances from an online community. Furthermore, feeling like a mere student in life at the moment, I thought, "Who am I to coach this young woman?" Nevertheless, I agreed and scheduled a time for us to speak, not knowing at all what I should expect.

When we finally got on the phone, she revealed the reason she’d reached out to me. Oddly, it was not because of any specific expertise (she honestly knew little about me). I can only describe what happened as an act of Universal synchronicity. From learning about her past to her current concerns and blocks - I understood immediately why I was speaking with her: I was called to be her teacher; she was called to be my mirror, reflecting my light and the strength of my own inner-guidance system. As A Course in Miracles says, “Certain pupils have been assigned to each of God’s teachers and they will begin to look for him...When he is ready to learn, the opportunities to teach will be provided for him.”  I was ready to learn; this was my opportunity to teach.

She had absolutely no way of knowing, but I had lived the lessons I was called to teach her on that call. I had been in the situations she described to me and struggled to find my way, and was still navigating through some. Yet, the words came to me effortlessly. As I offered her reassurance and guidance, I offered it also to myself. As I hung up the phone, I smiled knowing I was exactly where I needed to be.

Oddly my last two weeks have held the trend of both students and teachers showing up in my life. I’ve had people reach out (seemingly) out of nowhere to show interest in projects I’d put on the back burner, groups have assembled to participate in efforts I’m passionate about, mere acquaintances have surfaced seeking help or collaboration. Similarly, I’ve found new teachers and lessons in the strangest of places.

While I can’t say I’ve had any great epiphany that’s brought full clarity to some of the things I’ve been marinating on, I can say that each new opportunity has offered a unique perspective and reassured me that the Universe gets to work when you say "I'm ready, show me what you've got."