For two decades, pastor and leadership consultant Matt Keller has worked with hundreds of influencers, and he has learned that the greatest enhancer or greatest limiter to a person’s success is whether someone is teachable. In The Key to Everything, Keller shows how teachability isn’t something that some people are born with and others aren’t. It is a characteristic that can be learned and grown. In fact, the only way to succeed in life is to possess teachability in an ever-increasing fashion, and The Key to Everything reveals how to do just that.
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About the Author
Matt Keller is the founder and lead pastor of Next Level Church in Fort Myers, FL, and is the founder of Next Level Coaching, a leadership resource company. He lives in Fort Myers, Florida, with his wife, Sarah, and their two boys.
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The Key to Everything
Unlocking the Secret to Why Some People Succeed and Others Don't
By MATT KELLER
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Matthew William Keller
All rights reserved.
The Roadblock of Pride
A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.
— C. S. LEWIS
Several years ago we were asked to work with an organization that had plateaued in its growth and was looking to identify why. A couple of our team members flew into their city for a few days, met with the leaders and the members of their team, and then prepared for our usual debriefing session before flying back to Florida.
But the debriefing didn't go the way we planned. Every time one of our team began to offer suggestions, the leader of this organization would cut us off. "Yep. Got it," he'd say. "What else? Keep moving." It was clear this leader didn't really want to hear what we had to say, and he certainly didn't want to talk about any of the issues our team had observed. He thought he knew best how to run his organization, and he wasn't open to hearing any possibilities from outsiders like us.
At one point this man's wife, who was present in the debriefing session, grew frustrated. "Why don't you stop cutting them off," she said, "and just listen to what they have to say?" He ignored her.
Sadly, a few years ago the organization closed its doors and went out of business. It didn't have to happen. We could have helped them. The pride of this leader was a roadblock that kept him from being teachable.
Pride will do that. Pride will keep us from teachability and will keep us from getting where we want to go. Pride is a major hindrance to everything good in your life because, as we are about to see, pride breeds presumption, and presumption kills teachability.
In this first part of the book, we are looking at a leader from history, King Saul, whose lack of teachability cost him greatly. In 1 Samuel 13, we find a particular instance when Saul let the roadblock of pride get in his way. Let me unpack the scenario for you.
Under Saul's leadership, the army of Israel found itself in a precarious situation. To put it mildly, the odds were not in their favor. Their archenemies, the Philistines, were preparing to attack them and do major damage to them. Their intention was to take the Israelites captive, or worse, destroy them. The biblical account says that Israel only had about three thousand troops and the Philistines had way more, some translations say as many as thirty thousand chariots! — and a whole heck of a lot of people on foot.
As a leader, Saul was feeling pretty unsure of himself and his army. Can you blame him? Any of us would feel the same way when facing those odds. But how Saul reacted when he felt unsure was what got him in trouble.
A Divine Safety Net
In those days, because Israel was God's chosen people, God guided them through special spokespersons called prophets. Only the prophets or priests were allowed to approach God on behalf of the people. So, before a king went out to fight a battle, he would seek out the prophet to ask God if what he was about to do was a good idea.
The prophet would make sacrifices and listen to what God said. And if the prophet said, "Yes, God is in this," then the king could go forward in confidence. But if the prophet said, "No, God isn't in this," then the king would call off the mission. At least that was the way it was supposed to work.
Needless to say, King Saul needed some guidance before he led his army into battle against that huge Philistine army. So there they stood, ready to go into battle. Samuel, the prophet, had promised to come and ask God what to do. But Samuel was nowhere to be found.
They waited one day. Nothing.
Two days. Nothing.
Three days. Still nothing. Not a word from the prophet.
And Saul's men were getting restless. Most of them, in fact, were completely terrified, and many were running away. Each day Saul's army was growing smaller and smaller. And the prophet was nowhere to be found.
Saul must have felt like a complete idiot waiting there day after day while his army dwindled and the Philistines loomed. Why was he standing around waiting on a prophet anyway? He was the king, after all. Why couldn't he approach God on his own? So Saul decided to do just that. The Bible describes it this way:
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul's men began to scatter. So he said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings." And Saul offered up the burnt offering.
Saul let the pressure to do something — anything — get to him. He couldn't stand having his men see him just standing there, waiting, and he really couldn't stand seeing his army waste away. So rather than do things the right way, Saul just went ahead and did what he wanted. He let his pride make him presumptuous. And as soon as he did, everything began to unravel.
The minute Saul was finished doing Samuel's job, sure enough, Samuel showed up. He wasn't even really late — he had told Saul from the beginning that he would be away seven days. Needless to say, the prophet was ticked when he found out what Saul had done. For King Saul to do an end run around the system was completely unacceptable, and it would eventually have severe consequences:
"You have done a foolish thing," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people."
Saul presumed that because of his title and position he could do what he wanted — a big mistake. But as Samuel pointed out, Saul's presumption had made him untrustworthy, and that in turn made him dangerous as a leader. His kingdom would eventually topple, and someone else would be raised up to lead his people.
It didn't happen right away. In fact, Saul and his son Jonathan went on to win quite a few battles against the Philistines. But in the end, Samuel was right. God did eventually raise up another king, and Saul lost his kingdom.
Presumption, caused by pride, is a serious roadblock to teachability in our life. A presumptuous attitude makes us dangerous because it brings with it four destructive thoughts. When these four thoughts get lodged in our minds, our teachability is about to come to a screeching halt.
Four Presumptuous Thoughts Caused by Pride
Presumption #1: "The Rules Don't Apply to Me."
Have you ever waited patiently for a table at a restaurant, only to have some hotshot walk up, demanding not to wait? I always feel sorry for the host or hostess trying to deal with that guy. Every time I see someone like that I always mutter under my breath, "That guy thinks the rules don't apply to him."
Pride is what makes us think we are above the rules. It's what prompted Saul to presume that since the prophet was a no-show, he could do an end run around the system and make up his own rules. Whenever we fall into thinking that we don't have to play by the same rules as everybody else, we have a pride issue that will get in the way of our teachability.
And here's the thing. This "above the rules" attitude is often easy to recognize in someone else (like the guy in the restaurant lobby), but often tough to see in ourselves.
What about you? Ever scoffed at the policies for expense accounts at work? Ever driven around the cones to park closer to a building? Ever sat in reserved seats that weren't reserved for you or tried to board a plane in a higher zone?
Every one of us has moments in life when we're tempted to think we are above the rules. In those moments, we've got to have the courage to call our own foul. Assuming the rules don't apply to us is a subtle form of pride that, if left unchecked, can block our teachability and keep us from becoming all we were meant to be. Saul thought the rules didn't apply to him, and it cost him greatly.
Presumption #2: "My Position of Authority Entitles Me to Do Whatever I Want."
This thought roadblocks teachability because it puts listening to voices of authority in the "optional" category. When a child doesn't listen to an authority, we call it a tantrum. When a teenager doesn't listen to authority figures, we call it a phase. When an adult doesn't listen, we call it a problem. But when someone in leadership decides to make listening to authority optional ... that's downright dangerous.
Saul assumed that because he was the king, he didn't have to honor anyone else's authority — not even that of Samuel, who spoke for God. He thought his position gave him the right to do whatever he wanted. His attitude was one of entitlement — another form of pride. He used his position of authority as an excuse to get his own way. And as Saul's example shows, an entitled leader is a compromised leader.
What about you? Have you ever assumed that your title or position entitled you to do what you wanted? Have you ever leveraged your position of authority for your personal ends?
Bosses, have you ever used "because I'm the boss" as an excuse to justify selfish or questionable behavior?
Parents, have you ever employed "I'm the parent, so you have to do what I say" just to make things easier on yourself?
Leaders, have you ever taken advantage of your position to get special perks or privileges?
It's a subtle and easy trap — especially for those whose positions do give them a measure of authority. Bosses have the right and responsibility to set and enforce policies. Parents have the right and responsibility to make and uphold rules in the home.
But the fact that we have influence doesn't mean we can take advantage of it or that we don't have to be under authority also. When we fall into that kind of thinking, chances are our teachability will suffer.
Presumption #3: "I Don't Need Anyone's Help or Advice."
When Saul felt the pressure from his army around him and got frustrated because things weren't going according to plan, his pride kicked in and caused him to think, Fine. I don't need anybody else. I will just take care of this on my own. His pride caused him to push something through prematurely instead of waiting on the right timing. And he ended up compromising the very thing he needed most — God's support for his rule over Israel.
When our church was just a couple of years old, we were meeting in a movie theater, and we had decided to add a second service in order to keep growing. We had been planning for months to make the jump to two services in September, around back-to-school time. And to spread the word about the new service, we printed up eight thousand dollars' worth of postcards. The plan was to mail them out to twenty-five thousand homes in the vicinity of the theater on the weekend before the new service began.
Unfortunately, that weekend fell right in the middle of the worst hurricane season southwest Florida had seen in forty years. We got three hurricanes in six weeks — all on the weekends, by the way. And the third hurricane was scheduled to make landfall on the Saturday night before we were supposed to launch our brand-new second service.
I will never forget my wife coming to me early in the week and suggesting that we postpone the mailing. I can still hear her saying, "We wouldn't want those cards to be in mailboxes if and when the third hurricane hits. All that postage would just be wasted."
But I didn't listen. I wanted so badly to get that second service launched that I made the decision to go ahead and send out the postcards anyway.
Sure enough, the hurricane hit, and I watched as eight thousand dollars literally blew away. Most of them were never seen again. And the few people who actually did receive one weren't looking for a church, they were looking for their roof!
What a mistake on my part — ignoring my wife's very sound advice because I was determined to press ahead regardless of circumstances. That lesson in teachability cost me eight thousand dollars.
What about you? When was the last time you decided you didn't need to listen to anybody else? Do you consistently refuse to seek advice or blow off the advice you do get? Do you let your pride lead you to make unwise decisions?
Teachable people welcome input and feedback from those near them. They don't just push their agenda through while pridefully trying to figure things out on their own.
Presumption #4: "I'm Going to Go Ahead with the Good Instead of Waiting on the Best."
When Saul made the decision not to wait for Samuel, he settled for what he thought would be good enough — making the sacrifices himself and then moving ahead in his battle with the Philistines. But in the process, according to Samuel, he forfeited the best — having his kingship secured and established for the long haul by God.
Being teachable is serious business when it comes to our influence. Saul's lack of teachability caused him to forfeit his trustworthiness, and that ultimately cost him his ability to lead. Saul had the right person around him in Samuel, but his pride kept him from being teachable enough to receive from him.
On the Opposite Side of Pride
A few years ago, Sarah and I became friends with Todd and Julie Mullins. From the moment we met them, we knew these were special people. They just have this air about them that is magnetic. And they're extremely successful as well — the pastors of Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, one of the largest churches in the United States. Their church has multiple locations up and down the east coast of Florida and an average attendance of more than twenty-five thousand people each weekend. Every week they are changing the lives of people not only in Florida but all over the world.
If anybody has a right to think they know best, it's Todd and Julie. If anyone has a right to be prideful, they do. And yet Todd and Julie are the exact opposite of proud. They are the most humble, teachable, and approachable people I know. Whenever we spend time with them, they always make us feel like we are the most important people in the world.
At conferences, Sarah and I are always blown away to see Todd and Julie sitting right up front, taking in every word the speakers are saying. They have every right to think, What can any of these people teach us? But instead they lean in. They take notes. They listen like crazy. They are two of the most teachable people I know, and they have the results to prove it.
Could Todd and Julie's success have to do with the fact that they don't have a prideful "I know best" attitude? I believe it does. Their teachability makes them stand out in the crowd.
What About You?
John Maxwell wrote, "Pride deafens us to the advice and warnings of those around us." That is exactly what happens when we allow these presumptuous thoughts to take root within us; we stop listening to those who could help us.
We must not let that happen. There's too much at stake.
As I said earlier, it's easy to see this stuff in others, but it's much more difficult to see it in ourselves. So take a minute at the end of this chapter and do a little self-examination. Review the four kinds of presumptuous thoughts that pride can lead to. Do any of them sound familiar?
If not, look harder. Better yet, ask a trusted friend or coworker if you're showing signs of this kind of presumption — and listen to what he or she tells you.
If you have any reason to believe that prideful, presumptuous thinking is a problem for you, take a couple of minutes and e-mail yourself a note with two ways you're going to work on dealing with these thoughts when they arise.
You'll be glad you did. Pride is a teachability roadblock that you can't afford to have in your path.CHAPTER 2
The Roadblock of Fear
The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it, he cannot act till then.
— THOMAS CARLYLE
In 2011, the church I had led for nine years went through the most wholesale change we had ever experienced in our history.
For the first nine years of our existence, we had been a "portable church." That is, we didn't have our own permanent facility. Each weekend we would rent a high school, unload two giant trailers, and set up our entire church in two hours — lights, sound, kids' areas, foyer, coffee bar space, everything. Then, after our second service on Sunday, we would tear it all down and put it back in the trailers until the next week.
Excerpted from The Key to Everything by MATT KELLER. Copyright © 2015 Matthew William Keller. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsPreface: Who Do I Think I Am?, xiii,
Introduction: What Is Teachability?, 1,
Part 1: The Roadblocks to Teachability, 11,
Chapter 1: The Roadblock of Pride, 15,
Chapter 2: The Roadblock of Fear, 27,
Chapter 3: The Roadblock of Insecurity, 40,
Chapter 4: The Roadblock of Pain, 51,
Chapter 5: The Roadblock of Pace, 63,
Part 2: The Characteristics of Teachability, 77,
Chapter 6: An Insatiable Desire to Learn and Grow, 83,
Chapter 7: An Appropriate View of Success, 95,
Chapter 8: An Openness to Feedback, 106,
Chapter 9: A Flexible Approach to Life, 116,
Chapter 10: An Ability to Handle Failure Well, 124,
Part 3: Developing a Lifestyle of Teachability, 135,
Chapter 11: Determine How You're Going to Define Teacher Forever, 139,
Chapter 12: Learn the Art of Asking Great Questions, 148,
Chapter 13: Get Wisdom, 162,
Chapter 14: Know Yourself Well, 170,
Chapter 15: Choose to Trade Your Life for Learning, 182,
Final Thoughts on Teachability, 191,
Thank-You Notes (My Homage to Jimmy Fallon), 193,
About the Author, 197,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Simply put, this book changed how I view my next 5 years. At first blush, you might think that claiming that teachability is the Key to Everything is questionable, but once Keller starts to address the 5 roadblocks to teachability in section one, you quickly realize that teachability really is a much bigger factor in our professional and personal lives that many of us realize. At least one of those roadblocks will probably apply to you. (A couple applied to me). Section two addresses characteristics of teachability, then section three addresses how to lead a teachable lifestyle. Although the book uses two historical figures from the Bible as examples of an unteachable person (King Saul) and an unteachable person who changed to embrace teachability (Paul), I wouldn't classify it as a spiritual growth book. It is, however, a personal growth book. In a market filled with "self-help" books, the Key to Everything, actually offers advice that is applicable to most of us. Back to my original statement....the next 5 years. One of those roadblocks for me has been fear in some of my professional decisions, as well as some of my personal ones. Reading this book encouraged me to "step out of the boat" so to speak and pursue those goals with a teachable spirit.
—If you’re willing to discover the key to everything—you’ve already found it. Do you get tired of others succeeding around you and wonder why you can’t catch a break? What’s their secret and why don’t they share it? What if I told you the key was right in front of you? In his book The Key to Everything, Pastor Matt Keller explains what’s missing in our success stories. It’s teachability. Huh? I know. I get what you’re thinking. I reacted the same way, but this book came to me right at the perfect time in my life. I was seeing others around me get their “break” and thought it was my turn. The Key to Everything was an encouragement to me. Mr. Keller describes what teachability is all about with two words—desire and willingness. They go hand in hand. “You can desire something all day long, but unless there is a willingness within you to do something about it, you’ll never change or get better.” Part 1 of this book talks about the “Roadblocks to Teachability” – these were eye-openers to me. For me the one that hit home was insecurity. Feeling inferior, like an imposter, incapable, and unworthy. Check to all. I began to wonder if the author was reading my mind! Another huge roadblock is the pace of our lives. I loved this quote, “Everything good in life, including teachability, lives and grows in the margins. And an unhealthy pace eliminates the margins in our lives.” How true is that? Our lives are full to the brim and overflowing because we’re so busy! We have no white space left. In Part 2, Mr. Keller speaks about the “Characteristics of Teachability.” He looks at five different traits, using King Saul as a reference to bring his points into clearer focus. This is done effectively. In the conclusion of the book, Part 3, the author gives us some sound advice on “Developing a Lifestyle of Teachability.” In these chapters he gives tips and strategies. The Key to Everything is well written and easy to read. I loved the humor throughout and especially in the footnotes at the end of each chapter. This is a book you can read in one sitting or one chapter a day. Mr. Keller encourages you to read one a day. In conclusion, I’ll leave you with this quote from the book. Teachability is a choice Teachability is possible. And teachability is essential to getting where you most want to go in life. I give The Key to Everything – you guessed it – FIVE keys! It will unlock your success. You just have to be willing to open the door. P.S. Be sure to read the “Thank-You Notes” at the end. They’re entertaining! **Book has been provided courtesy of The Blog Spot and Thomas Nelson Publishing for an honest review.
The Key to Everything is for everyone! Almost everyone I know — stay-at-home moms, business men, or those serving in ministry — has goals. Whether they are short-term or long-term, personal or business, our goals are something to give us focus as we move forward throughout our lifetime. But, how can we be successful in achieving our goals and developing our skills? According to Matt Keller, author of The Key to Everything, we must be willing to learn new things and relearn things we thought we knew to reach our goals. In fact, the key to everything is teachability. Using King Saul (unteachable) and Paul, the Apostle (learned to become teachable), as case studies, Matt does an excellent job of walking us through three easy-to-understand sections in the book: Roadblock– what hinders our ability to grow and learn Characteristics– five common traits of people who are teachable Lifestyle– five steps to help you practice teachability For us to be teachable, Matt says we must first have desire to become better and change, and we must be willing to learn and relearn. In fact, he gives us this equation DESIRE to learn X WILLINGNESS to change = our level of TEACHABILITY I don’t know about you, but change can be hard. Yet, if we want to be able to reach our goals, we must change and be willing to learn new ways of doing things. This is hard for me, and I suspect most people, because changing and learning feels like admitting we are wrong. However, as you read through the Roadblocks in this book you can see how fear, pride and insecurity keep us from moving forward to where we really want to be. I’m ready to get past my fear and insecurity and learn new things, change and grow…how about you?