The other day I was thinking about the quote “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

I thought about a proverbial Mr. Miyagi. A master or a sensei that I could learn from. A truly enlightened being that can show me the way.

Or in the world of startups and business we use the word “mentor” or “advisor”. I thought about how I would love this mentor or advisor to manifest into my life as I make the next transition of my career.

I thought, If this teacher isn’t in my life yet, what can I do to better prepare?

Get myself into the best shape that I can be of course! Get myself ready mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Study, train, practice, learn. If I focus on the process, the teacher will surely come into my life….right?


But wait?

Maybe I am putting the teacher on the pedestal? Maybe I’m approaching it wrong if I have this vision of a sole individual who will change my life. Maybe this isn’t a realistic expectation.

What if every person you come into contact with is your teacher? Every interaction, altercation, argument, shared bliss…is your teacher.

What if, instead of the sole individual, it’s my interactions with the collective whole, that will ACTUALLY teach me the learnings that I desire.

What if Mr. Miyagi is a collection of every person I’ve ever met? One giant collective consciousness teaching me about my behaviors and influence on others.

I believe that when we look for a grand master, we accidentally reject the other people around us. We don’t give people the importance they deserve because we mistakenly believe that they can’t deliver value to our lives.

Instead, when you treat everyone as a grand master, it completely shifts your interactions with them. You see what makes them special. Unique. Individual.

Treat everyone you meet as if they are a celebrity. When we see a celebrity we HAVE TO get a picture with them, or speak to them, like they are going to deliver a magical word that would change your life – we can use this same awe and wonder in our interactions with regular people as well. 

The truth is that the best advice and lessons come from the insignificant moment’s we’ve lost sight of. You can learn something from everything you do in life. Whether it be a conversation with a friend or a walk through the forest.

If you’re looking for it, there are learnings everywhere. Opportunities to get outside of your comfort zone and shift your perspective.

THESE moments are the greatest teachers in our lives. There are always lessons to be learned…if you’re open and receptive to it.

BUT be careful – Life is not always direct in her messaging. She is discreet. Cryptic.

Building on Mr. Miyagi, I ADORE the analogy of “Wax on Wax off” and what it teaches us about indirect learning.  

In the movie The Karate Kid, Daniel comes to Mr. Miyagi asking for Karate training. His first lesson? Wax on, wax off.


Then? Paint the fence


Daniel becomes frustrated because he wants to learn karate – WHAT THE HELL DOES WAXING A CAR AND PAINTING A FENCE HAVE TO DO WITH KARATE!!!??!?

Lo and behold, the wax on wax off technique becomes the foundational pillar to defense and is the core piece of Daniel’s training.

Daniel was initially rejecting the teaching because he couldn’t see the immediate value in it. He wanted to learn how to punch, kick, fight, defend himself. He didn’t see the connection until later on.

Life often operates in the same way. While we’re going through our struggles, we don’t see the larger meaning in it. We reject the teachings life is trying to instill upon us because they don’t fit the mold of our expectations.

So maybe you don’t need to be ready. Maybe the illusion is being “ready” at all. Maybe in reality we should just be prepared for the fact that we’re not ready, and never will be.

Maybe the real way to be “ready” is to know that you might not know the lessons being taught to you while you’re in the middle of them. Maybe there are teachers around us at all times and we just didn’t know it, and once you flip the switch, you see the light.

I believe that everyone is your teacher, but you might not know how at the time. You might meet someone and think nothing of it. Years later that person could go on to influence you in a profound way.

When I look back on the people who have made the most influence in my life, at the time that I met them I had no idea they would impact my life in the way that they did. For many of these, it didn’t even happen until years after our initial contact.

The true teacher is see the subtlety in life’s teachings. To see the magical mystery in everything. To discover nuance in the ordinary.

However, after all is said and done, I believe that external teachers can only take us so far. They can guide us along the path, but eventually we have to walk it alone. We must delve into the depths of our own minds.

And when you are ready to, your own mind is the greatest teacher of them all.

But studying yourself is an art in itself, something probably to touch on at another time. For now I’ve enjoyed reflecting on the idea that everyone is a teacher. Every situation an opportunity to learn.

And I think that’s all I have to say on this subject for now…. 😉


Also published on Medium.

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