Everyone who enters our life, from the best friend you met in school to the cashier at the market is a teacher. Lessons big and small are taught through the interactions we have, sometimes through words, other times through actions.

Where some lessons may come from those in roles titled teachers, our learning is not limited to there. They say young children are sponges, they pick up things by observing the people around them. Although we may not recognize or demonstrate it in the same way, as adults we continue to absorb the messages and lessons around us.

I once met a woman who worked in the same building I did. As we were introduced, she said she felt she already knew me. When I asked why she said, “For the past year, each morning when I am heading to the cafeteria I pass you in the hallway. You always smile at me and wish me a good morning.” She continued, “I look forward to that because you seem so friendly and it makes me feel good, so I began smiling at others and wishing them a good morning to hopefully lighten their day.”

That conversation was many years ago and it stuck with me. Not only because it made me feel happy that I had brightened someone’s day but because I realized that we don’t always know when or how we influence, and in turn sometimes teach others.

Sometimes we learn from people who demonstrate behaviors we don’t want to adopt. As a mentor in business I always tell people you can learn from your leaders. I sometimes get the response, “My boss is so frustrating I would never want to be like him.” There, I point out, is where the learning begins. What is it that you don’t like and how can you make sure that you don’t adopt that traits when leading others? We can learn not only from those we admire, but those we choose not to reflect in ourselves.

So keep in mind that we are always learning from those around us, and at the same time, others are learning from us. When we live in the moment of always being our best self we create the opportunity to positively impact someone else.

Who has been a teacher for you in life that may not have played the traditional teacher role? Share with me below how he or she influenced you.

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