What’s the least I can teach that will be the most useful

“What’s the least I can teach that will be the most useful?”

Michael Bungay Stainer, author of The Coaching Habit

Image from Unsplash by Kenny Eliason

My first career after graduating college was as a science teacher. My second career was as a pharmaceutical representative working with physicians and other medical professionals.

For the past thirty-two years, I’ve worked as a business and personal coach supporting individuals and organizations to reach higher and achieve more, personally and professionally. I suppose in many ways I’ve always been a teacher.

These days I am still a coach and teacher to my adult children and more recently as Pop-Pop to our two precocious and rambunctious grandchildren. Today’s quote is especially relevant for these little ones with their often limited attention spans.


Where in your life do you play the role of a teacher?

How would focusing on quality versus quantity in your wisdom sharing efforts make the biggest difference with the people you serve and support?

“The path of least resistance is a terrible teacher.”

“The path of least resistance is a terrible teacher.”

Ryan Holiday, American author and host of the podcast The Daily Stoic

Image from Unsplash by Taylor Flow

Look back on your life and consider your most impactful teachers.

Which of them left a lasting impression where — even today — you still refer to their lessons?

How often do you recall wanting to be challenged and stretched versus going for that easy “A”?

In today’s convenience-centric world, the goal most often seems to focus on maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain.

What has this approach taught us and how has it weakened our spirits and resolve?


Consider reading Robert Fritz’s book, The Path of Least Resistance to see what it has to offer.

Feel free to let me know your top take-aways as you wrestle with this concept.

Nothing taught by force stays in the soul

“Nothing taught by force stays in the soul.”

Plato, ancient Greek philosopher

Image from Unsplash by Christopher Ryan

Who were the teachers, mentors, coaches, and family members who had the most positive influence on you while growing up?

How did their lessons and good examples open up your soul to their wisdom, to become an integral part of your personality and character?

How did their kindness and care for your best interest help you remain an open book to guide your current pursuits and project?


How often do an open mind and open heart accompany each other?

Where and how can this idea open the souls and minds of others you intend to support and serve?

“Teachers should prepare the student for the student’s future, not for the teacher’s past.”

“Teachers should prepare the student for the student’s future, not for the teacher’s past.”

—Richard Hamming, 20th Century American mathematician

Image from Unsplash by Adam Winger

Who have been your most influential teachers? Which of them tapped into your greatest interests and inspired you to want to learn, grow, and achieve?

Which of them poured themselves into you with love and also saw that their job was to bring out the possibilities within you?

The questions, Will this be on the test? and How will this prepare me for my future? are worlds apart.

Fulfilling even the most well-intended curriculum and tapping into the knowledge stores of many teachers and other advising professionals can only go so far.

How can we better prepare our youth for a future in which exponential wisdom will be required?


What would be possible if your role as a life-long learner was to use up all the teachers that come into your life?

As you soar beyond the relevancy of these well-intended individuals, keep looking for the future sages and stoics to help you take your next steps.

“The role of a teacher is to introduce you to your inner teacher.”

“The role of a teacher is to introduce you to your inner teacher.”

—Loch Kelly, author, meditation teacher, psychotherapist

Image from Unsplash by Science in HD

Who were your favorite teachers when you were young? What made them so pivotal in your growth and development? What lessons did you learn that live on within you these decades later?

Mr. Felteberger was my high school physics teacher, Mr. Zimba was my grade school shop teacher, and Dr. Schmuckler from my college years all left great impressions on me, and their memory still brings many smiles.

Each of them brought tremendous generosity and enthusiasm to their art, and saw their role as building and shaping minds and characters to take into our futures.

Most significant was how they instilled and brought out my natural curiosity and passion for learning, which continues to this day.


How did the great teachers in your life light the fires of you own inner teacher? How can and will you be such an educational catalyst for others?

In every man there is something

“In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th Century American essayist and poet

Image of two people talking at a business meeting

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There is a wise saying about the fact that we have one mouth and two ears, and should use them proportionately.

For most of us, coaching, teaching, advising, and mentoring others, although with good intentions, plays into the fact that we often prefer to be interesting rather than interested.

Consider yourself an explorer or a miner looking for the gold in “them thar’ hills.” To reap such riches, the only tools you would need would be an open set of eyes, ears, and of course, an open mind.


In what area of your life is it far more important to be the pupil rather than the teacher?

What is it that you most wish to learn to support either your personal or professional life?

Who are the specific teachers in your world that hold the wisdom you seek?

Friday Review of Teaching


Who was your best teacher? Who are you teaching today? Here are a few teaching-related posts you may have missed. Click to read the full message.


“Teaching is an instinctual art, mindful of potential, craving of realization, a pausing, seamless process.”




“To teach is to learn twice.”





“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.”




One looks back with appreciation

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.”

—Carl Gustav Jung, 20th Century Swiss founder of analytical psychology

I recently watched the Netflix documentary, Genius of the Ancient World. The three-part series focused on The Buddha, Socrates, and Confucius.

Surprisingly, they all lived about 2,500 years ago, but worlds apart geographically. Many of their teachings and influences are still very apparent in our world today.

Who are the brilliant and soul-touching teachers from your past? Who are the current teachers and mentors that continue to make a meaningful difference in your life?

Where have you, and are you, that brilliant and perhaps more importantly, soul-touching teacher for others, personally or professionally?


Reflect on the questions above, and determine some meaningful way to show your gratitude for the teachers who influenced your world.

My Joy in Learning

“My joy in learning is partly that it enables me to teach.”

—Seneca, first century Roman philosopher

Image from Unsplash by jeshoots.com

My coaching relationships begins with several “discovery” sessions in which my clients crystallize and clarify what they wish to learn and how they intend to grow.

I often joke with them that they are pursuing “A PhD in Me” through this unique and customized relationship.

In the early stages, they may look to me or others they respect and watch how we lead, manage, coach, or communicate. Very quickly they begin practicing and engaging in similar efforts to further their mastery journey. Soon after, or even at the same time, I encourage them to play the role of coach, mentor, or teacher to share what they are learning with others.


Where and with whom can you be a teacher to more joyfully experience the pleasure of learning and contribute more of yourself to others?

Life is Amazing

“Life is amazing, and the teacher had best prepare himself to be a medium for that amazement.”

—Edward Blishen, 20th Century British author

Image of an eye and eyebrow

Image from Unsplash by Amanda Dalbjorn

Have you heard of Sam Horn? If not, look her up, and strongly consider reading her newsletter and books.

She often shares a concept she calls The Eyebrow Test, which refers to the ideas, concepts, and life events that literally make your eyebrows move upward, demonstrating great interest, or in the case of today’s quote, amazement.


How and in what ways can you more fully engage in your own life to experience far more raised eyebrows of amazement?

How can you share such moments or help others in your world experience greater amazement through your potential roles as teacher, mentor, parent, or coach?