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7 Traits That Make A Good Student (Number 6 Is A Game-Changer)

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Ex-homeless wise man drops true knowledge on qualities of a good student! (Most are rarely discussed!)

"J-Ryze... beat up my poor, limiting beliefs to a pulp. Save up your nickels, tap dance on the street corners, sell your dusty CD collection... do whatever it takes to talk to this special wise man. He explained how I needed to love money and how to know myself in ways that gave me two epiphanies I'd been waiting for for years."
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Benjamin Jenks
AdventureSauce Founder

In this article, we’re not talking just about academic excellence or ‘responsible behavior’ in school…

…instead we’re digging deeper into being a student of life, and how to learn anything successfully.

So… what’s more important for that: being a good teacher, or a good student?

Many people think finding the right teacher is so important.

And as a teacher, it’d do wonders for my ego to believe that “the best teacher” is all that matters.

But like an artist with a canvas, or a comedian with an audience, there’s two parts to the equation, and they both matter a lot.

In the case of education, one is far more overlooked than others.

While everyone’s focused on whether teachers are “doing a good job” or not…

Almost no one realizes that being a good student matters just as much…

If not more so.

My friend I.C. Robledo posed the following questions, and I liked them so much, I wrote them down:

  • When was the last time you consciously aimed to be a better student?
  • Have you ever attempted to be a better student?
  • Has anyone even mentioned “being a better student” to you?

He then pointed out that we live an entire lifetime of learning… we’re not just students at school, we’re students on the job, we learn from bosses and mentors, we’re students in business, in relationships, in fitness. We’re even students learning how to improve our mental health.

Plus, our learning habits even apply to reading books.

When we read what some expert or guru has written, we’ll get far more out of it with good learning habits than sloppy ones.

Can you see how much “good learning habits” (not just effective study habits) pays off in all areas, for as long as you live?

Well, unfortunately for me…

I’ve dealt with more bad students than any teacher I know.

Why?

Because I’ve had a long career as a teacher, consultant, and coach, and I was so cocky for most of it that I believed I could teach anyone just about anything if I put my mind to it.

And I still believe that, but in a much more mature way.

I believe a good teacher can teach anyone, but that selecting students to invest in is a skill, and must be done wisely.

And that means, being able to tell which students are the best investments of a teacher’s precious moments here on earth.

Kapil Gupta says most students aren’t “serious.”

Choose poorly, and all your heartfelt teaching’s will fall on deaf ears, or be wasted and squandered.

Choose wisely, and even a small offhand piece of advice you give will be absorbed, applied, and transformed into positive results.

I learned the hard way… that students are investments.

I’ve taught so many students from all walks of life, and (masochistically) stayed loyal to even the most stubborn, unaware candidates. I ended up evicted, homeless, abandoned, jailed, and robbed in part because of this.

The bright side though, is that I can easily spot when it’s the teacher f**king up, or when the student has the lion’s share of responsibility.

Not to mention, as a speed-reader (and ‘gifted’ child), I’ve also learned from, and studied, countless gurus and experts.

I’m uniquely positioned to know what makes a good student.

I have intimate knowledge of student success factors.

So when I read an article recently that said there are “no bad students,” I had to laugh.

That’s like a chef saying “there are no bad ingredients,” or a dancer saying “there are no bad songs.”

Technically, a talented person can “make the best” of anything, so that nothing is actually “bad” by nature…

…but some students are most definitely worse than others…

…just like some teachers are worse than others.

Ask any parent if they’d rather teach their innocent, wide-eyed toddler, or their contrarian, angsty teenager.

See which version of their child they feel is a “better student.”

Why does nearly every parent say it’s easier and more enjoyable to teach the younger mind?

Because there are some useful traits most kids have in abundance, which most teens have practically abandoned.

So here’s the harsh truth.

Since no one teaches learning skills, it’s possible you’re a bad student.

But even if you aren’t the greatest student…

…even if you don’t have the most positive work ethic…

…please know it’s not your fault.

Parents, teachers, and society set you up to struggle.

They instilled in you almost none of the traits of a powerful, brilliant learner.

And that’s okay.

Because being a good student boils down to (learnable) traits or qualities.

A good student has qualities that help them learn quickly and well, at a high level, no matter the quality of the teacher.

The top google results will say things like a good student is ‘motivated,’ ‘punctual,’ a ‘hard worker,’ and more.

Hell, one article on the first page of results listed “22 Qualities of a Good Student.” Sounds helpful right? I clicked through and saw that the list included “being friendly,” “being courteous,” and “mannerly” as 3 separate qualities.

Like… What?

How did this rank on page one?

(I can only imagine it was their domain rank or title, so I yoinked it.)

A quick glance at other articles gives similar less-than-helpful suggestions.

  • Optimism
  • Having A Goal
  • Being Punctual
  • Honesty
  • Etc.

And even though these are all helpful traits to have… they’re rarely explained or exemplified well, and they’re often hyper-focused on over much more important good student characteristics.

My point is, most stuff you’ll find on being a good student isn’t really world-shaking.

The traits these articles cover are basic things anyone “should” be, in any endeavor.

If you’re not motivated enough to show up on time and respectfully do whatever work is necessary, you’re probably not going to seek to learn from anyone anyway…

…and even if you do, it’s clear you shouldn’t have bothered.

So what traits really matter for being a good student?

Well, there are 7 key traits that are rarely mentioned, but so vital to being a good student and getting the most value from your teachers.

These traits are essential if you want to get to where a teacher is taking you.

Whether your teacher is teaching you relationships, wealth, fitness, or something else, as a student, you’re presumably aiming to “get there.”

You’re aiming to reach a certain point, and just like any journey, that can be done quickly and easily, or it can be a long, arduous slog.

The better you are at the following 7 traits, –number six is so clutch– the quicker and easier your learning journey will be.

The traits are:

  • Objectivity
  • Open-ness
  • Attentiveness
  • Authenticity
  • Curiosity
  • Application
  • Appreciation

Let’s explore them deeper.

Objectivity is the foundation of a good student.

If you approach a teacher with preconceived notions, biased ideas, and a judgy attitude, your teacher will have to spend most of their time and energy trying to cut through your biases and fight your prickly, preconceived notions rather than actually teaching you anything or moving you closer to mastering what you want to learn.

A heavily biased student can make a simple lesson that many have already learned and succeeded with –such as “breathing can regulate body processes”– turn into a 2 hour discussion over “how lungs work.”

But if a student approaches a teacher with an objective, ego-free mind, paired with decent critical thinking skills… they’re primed to learn quickly and easily, benefitting from the lessons well.

Objectivity: Good student vs. bad student.

Teacher: “Sustainable wealth is a side-effect of sustainable (perceived) value.”

Good student: “Hmm, I’ve never really considered that, but it’s certainly possible. Please let me run through a few examples and see if this holds water.”

Bad student: “No it isn’t, I’m valuable, my friends are valuable, and none of us make money! Scammers aren’t valuable, yet they make tons of money.”

Now, no one is 100% objective, because we’re all individual humans, with individual life experiences, and individual perspectives. None of us can see the whole picture of the universe…

…But hopefully you can clearly see why being as objective and unbiased as possible makes for a drastically better student and a much smoother learning experience.

A lesson isn’t really the place for ego or your “random opinions,” it’s a place for calm, objective critical thinking.

So it’s worth asking ourselves, “How objective am I really, compared to the most objective people in the world?”

Next trait?

A female student standing in profile against a brick wall holding a book with one hand, spread open across her face.

Openness is the door for wisdom to pass.

An open mind is key for learning well, while approaching a teacher with distrust, close-mindedness, or defensiveness hinders most effective or efficient learning.

And let’s be honest… How common is an open mind?

Do you know a lot of open-minded people? Were you taught to be open-minded by open-minded parents?

Or is openness a rare trait in students?

Food for thought.

Let’s take a look at a “good” open-minded student vs. a “bad” close-minded one.

Openness: Good student vs. bad student.

We’ll again use our simple lesson above as an example.

Teacher: “Sustainable wealth is a side-effect of sustainable (perceived) value.”

Good student: “Hmm, well, you’ve taught me something good previously, so I’ll trust you on this until I can test it out for myself. Also, I should mention this hurts my ego because it implies I haven’t been perceived as valuable very often, but instead of snapping at you or putting up walls, I’m just going to be open to the fact that… maybe I really haven’t been.”

Bad student: “Are you saying I ain’t valuable? Huh? Are you? Screw you, teach! You’re not rich, so you can’t teach me sh*t about money! I don’t even know why I’m listening to you, Alex Hormozi is way smarter.”

Can you see the difference in the interaction?

Can you see how one of them would deepen the student-teacher relationship and make learning easy, where the other just creates suffering, slowness, and discord?

Having an open mind takes a significant amount of practice for most people, and most students get defensive (or turn to blame) when a lesson inadvertently highlights that they’ve not been performing something as well as they imagined.

Hopefully you can see that “shooting the messenger” or giving your teacher backlash just makes the teacher not want to teach you any more, or be hesitant to point out areas you could improve, or for them to feel like you don’t trust their wisdom or the efforts they’re taking to help you.

Defensiveness, paranoia, and close-mindedness doesn’t get a student very far.

It’s far better not to fear ideas and lessons, to hold an open mind, and trust your teachers (as long as you’ve chosen them, and they’ve earned your trust.)

So it’s worth asking ourselves, “How open-minded am I really, compared to the most open-minded folks in the world?”

Because that plays a major role on how good a student you are, and how much value you get from teachings.

Next trait?

Attentiveness is your laser for getting to the root of things.

A student with laser-focus will get a lot of value from the lesson, understand things quickly, and even anticipate the teacher’s upcoming point mid-sentence.

If you’ve ever seen a toddler grasp something quicker than you expected, you know what I’m talking about.

An attentive student inspires others to say “Wow, you picked this up so quickly, you must have been paying close attention!

On the flipside…

  • A student who can’t focus and stay on topic, derails the lesson.
  • A student who goes off on unnecessary tangents derails the lesson.
  • A student who multi-tasks instead of paying full attention derails the lesson.
  • A student who nitpicks words due to mis-attention to the energy behind them or the overall point… derails the lesson.

Let’s see it in action:

Attentiveness: Good student vs. bad student.

Same lesson…

Teacher: “Sustainable wealth is a side-effect of sustainable (perceived) value.”

Good student: “Hmm, I’ve been paying attention, and it seems like the keyword here is ‘perceived.’ I’ve posted tons of content and sold products occasionally, but for one reason or another, my target audience is not perceiving a very high value from what I offer. I’m excited to learn what I can change to influence their perception.”

Bad student: “Uh, hello? I already told you, I’ve made 1,000 Instagram posts. I have 5 different products to offer. I look good, I’m charming AF, I’m clearly valuable! This lesson was a waste of my time, I’ve got stuff to do.”

The difference is massive here.

A good student pays close attention to what the teacher is saying. They pay close attention to not just the individual words, but the intention behind the words. They read between the lines. They understand context and subtext. They are totally focused and looking forward to “getting” the lesson.

A bad student takes in very little of what’s being communicated, often picking up the wrong message completely, and acting as if it’s gospel.

So it’s worth asking ourselves, “How attentive & focused am I really, compared to the most focused learners in the world?”

Attentiveness is super high-leverage.

Parents tell kids to “pay attention,” because our attention is an investment that decides how much we get out of something. (ie: it matches the attention we “put in.”)

So be better with your attention.

Bring your full focus, avoid multitasking, and learn to dig deeper into what’s really being taught.

Next trait?

Authenticity is “lube” for learning.

I’m not even kidding.

When a student and teacher are communicating, there can be confusion, misunderstandings, and moments of friction.

No one ever avoids these entirely, they’re just part of life, and that’s fine.

What’s not fine is letting them blow up into bigger fights.

Both student and teacher should be there to cooperatively reach a helpful truth, and be looking to minimize friction.

Authenticity is the main ingredient that does this.

If a student honestly doesn’t understand something, they should speak up and authentically (but respectfully) say so before the teacher wastes time explaining other things.

If a student has a question that’s been burning at the back of their brain, causing them to lose focus, they should be vulnerable and authentic and say so, so the teacher can ease their mind, and the lesson can continue.

If a student feels fearful or underconfident in applying the lesson in their life, they should speak up and voice that fear, so the teacher can address it.

If a student says they’ll show up on time for the lesson, they should keep their word and show up on time, or at the very least give ample notice that a schedule change is likely to occur.

Be authentic about your thoughts, moods, and choices. Own your sh*t.

Authenticity: Good student vs. bad student.

Another round.

Teacher: “Sustainable wealth is a side-effect of sustainable (perceived) value.”

Good student: “OK, I get it, but first I’m afraid I’ll never be perceived as valuable, and second I’m worried that I’ll lose my friends if I get rich.”

Bad student: “Kk, cool, I get it. (Secretly afraid, confused, unclear, hesitant, and unconfident.) What’s next?”

Teachers aren’t mind readers, and while they’re happy to impart any wisdom they can to help a student reach their goals, things aren’t going to go very smoothly if there’s many hidden issues the student is masking behind a smile and a nod.

So it’s worth asking ourselves, “How honest & authentic am I really, compared to the most honest students in the world?”

Be honest, vulnerable, and authentic, or you’ll get minimal value from any teacher.

Next trait?

Curiosity is learning fuel.

When you were a kid, you learned so much about the world around you, and you did it extremely fast.

How?

With high levels of curiosity.

You asked “why” constantly.

When you learned you could get what you wanted by crying, you started trying it on everyone. When it stopped getting you what you want, you experimented with bargaining, tantrumming, and more.

When you learned how to burn paper with a magnifying glass, you didn’t settle at that, you remained curious. You wanted to see if you could burn wood, rocks, ants, whatever.

A student who learns a lesson and stops there, is hardly a good student.

A student who learns something and then questions it, experiments with it, digs deeper, asks why, and so on, is far superior.

You can even go so far as to challenge a lesson or teaching, as long as you do it respectfully.

For example…

Curiosity: Good student vs. bad student.

Let’s get into it.

Teacher: “Sustainable wealth is a side-effect of sustainable (perceived) value.”

Good student: “Hmm, this does make sense, but I’m curious then… why does Ken Honda say money comes from our happiness, and why does Abraham-Hicks say money comes from energy?”

Bad student: “Ok!”

The difference in approaches, and results is once again… quite large.

One involves respectful, sincere, curiosity-based questions, the other doesn’t even embody fake curiosity.

Which approach is going to result in better learning and mastery?

So it’s worth asking ourselves, “How curious am I really, compared to the most curious students in the world?”

This quote from Einstein, one of the most brilliant learners in history, sums it up well, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Use curiosity well, but avoid letting too much curiosity derail teaching moments that are making great progress.

Next trait…

Application is the true value in learning.

Here’s a question to ponder…

If you learn a hundred things, and apply none of them, what value have you gotten?

The answer?

Almost zero.

Those one hundred things would have benefited your life, compounding over decades if you applied them immediately, but instead, they sit in your intellect, fading from memory, unpracticed, unused, and unapplied.

And then when you one day get around to applying them, you can’t even remember them. You’re basically starting from scratch.

Learning is an investment, but that investment is wasted and squandered if you fail to apply the concepts, practice them, internalize them, and realize them in your own life experience.

And let me tell you, there’s almost nothing that hurts a teacher more than for them to:

  • Spend years learning hard lessons
  • Spend more years learning how to communicate those lessons effectively
  • Spend anywhere from hours, to days, to months communicating those lessons to a student a bit at a time
  • All to finally watch their student lazily, stubbornly, or fearfully refuse to apply them, and end up with zero positive results.

What a goddamn waste.

It’s enough to make someone never want to teach again.

So be a better student.

This is the number one game-changer for you.

Refusing to apply gained wisdom isn’t just twisting a knife into the heart of every teacher, it’s also the biggest way for you to waste your life, fail to grow, and go nowhere.

But tenaciously applying gained wisdom is by far the best way to gain mastery and compound value from whatever you learned for the rest of your life. (Plus it’s one of the most rewarding things for a teacher to see.)

Application: Good student vs. bad student.

May our next example inspire you.

Teacher: “Sustainable wealth is a side-effect of sustainable (perceived) value.”

Good student: “Sensei, I Googled how to change perceived value and it inspired me to make my branding clearer so prospects know what they’re getting immediately, but I didn’t stop there, I also added in way more testimonials on my profile, so people would perceive the value others have already gotten… plus I increased my prices so people would see even more value from my offerings. It was scary, and I lost a couple tire-kickers, but it worked, and I made more than I have before, thank you!”

Bad student: “I dunno, I looked at my profile, it seems fine. I did learn about value from my Sifu, but it didn’t seem to change anything. I like… got one or two more shares, but my biz is still struggling.”

Application is how you take wisdom you’ve gained and deepen it into practice.

Application is how you take practice and turn it into fully-realized results.

But the ‘application’ part of things isn’t up to the teacher. It’s up to the student. And the student can either apply things practically, committedly, and well… or they can half-ass their application.

The point is, application is a life-saver for students and one of the most inspiring rewards a teacher can get.

Embrace it.

And it’s worth asking ourselves, “How well do I apply things really, compared to the most practical learners in the world?”

Next trait…

Appreciation, a bonding agent for more wisdom.

In life, whatever we appreciate, grows.

Whatever we fail to appreciate, shrinks.

Appreciate your tools and they’ll last long, and you’ll attract others to replace them when the time comes.

Disrespect your tools, and they’ll break quickly, and you’ll struggle to get others.

Appreciate your job, go the extra mile for it, and you’ll either get promoted or find an alternative one that treats you better.

Moan bitterly about your job, and you’ll plateau, get demoted, or end up unemployable.

Appreciate your child, and they’ll blossom and grow into wonderful people.

Disrespect your child, and they’ll quickly mirror that back to you.

The same thing goes for teachers.

If you disrespect your teacher, waste their time, trash talk them, piss all over the lessons they’ve taught you, and so on…

…don’t expect to get more wisdom. Don’t expect your teachers to invest more time or energy in you.

But if you appreciate them in whatever ways you can, whether that be praising them publicly, applying their lessons well, showing up on time, or yes,even paying them handsomely for their life-changing value…

…you’ll foster a bond with your teachers that grows more and more precious. Your connection with them will ‘appreciate’ in value.

Appreciation: Good student vs. bad student.

May our next example inspire you.

Teacher: “Sustainable wealth is a side-effect of sustainable (perceived) value.”

Good student: “Sensei, I know I’ve been sharing your work with the community, but today I’d love for you to accept this donation. You’ve saved me years of struggle, you’ve moved my career years ahead, and I’m making more than I have in decades thanks to you. This token of appreciation is the least I can do, and at the risk of going overboard, if you’re open to it, I’d like to interview you for my audience.”

Bad student: “Yo, I loved what you taught me last week, thanks and whatever. When’s the next lesson?”

If you want your learning and growth to be continually aided by wise teachers, you don’t have to pay them exorbitant fees, but do something to prioritize showing appreciation, and make sure it counts.

In this case, it’s worth asking ourselves, “How well do I appreciate teachers really, compared to the most appreciative learners in the world?”

Whew.

That covers the seven traits of a good student.

There may be other traits that are helpful, but…

…they’re mostly subsets of the 7 above.

For example, some people say “punctuality” is a characteristic of a good student.

But traits like “punctuality” show up naturally when a student is “authentic.”

Authentic means saying what we mean.

If we go ahead and say we “understand the lesson,” we’d best authentically understand it. If we say we “don’t understand” it, then that must be the honest authentic truth as well.

Similarly, if we authentically say we’ll “show up at 2pm,” then we show up at 2pm. Or in case of a true emergency, we notify our teacher about any potential lateness.

Embodying authenticity as a student, automatically leads to punctuality.

The same goes for being a “hard worker.”

If a student embodies the “application” trait, they’re automatically taking the wisdom and applying it in their life in various ways. Real, tangible, work will get done in various areas.

If a student avoids application, they’ll appear lazy, apathetic, and hardly trying.

Embodying “application” as a student, automatically looks like “hard work” to others.

So most of the traits people claim make a good student are just sub-traits from the seven major qualities I’ve listed here.

And we can take it even further.

These 7 traits can all be put into one single “mega-trait.”

They can all be put into the bucket of “cooperation” or “harmony” or “alignment.”

If a student and teacher are both focused on cooperative harmony towards the same goal, these 7 traits will be present, and as soon as one or both of people stop aiming for harmony or start abandoning one or more of these key traits, learning goes off the rails pretty fast.

This is because teachers and students are on a journey together, marching side-by-side towards beneficial, high-value truths.

If it’s a cooperative, harmonious journey, they’ll both blaze a trail quickly towards the truth, saving them both time, energy, resources, etc.

If it’s an uncooperative, discordant journey it’ll be agonizingly slow, draining, and may even send them both off in unhelpful directions for years.

So make your learning journey as quick, easy, and flowing as possible by embodying harmony with your teacher in all moments, and ideally you have a teacher who’s doing the same.

The thing no one mentions is the better your mental health, the better you can accomplish this.

As for what to do when you have an uncooperative, disharmonious teacher, expert, or guru…

…that’s another article entirely.

Let me know if you want me to write it. 🙂

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