I have a close friend and teacher who once told me this story:
I was at an Ashram in India once for 8 months where I was still young. We had to attend a certain amount of lectures each day, and every day they would be different. The school would bring in many teachers to give the lectures and this is how the students and teachers there would learn. One day I went to a lecture, and immediately could tell that the lecture would be horrible. The teacher giving the lecture was stumbling over facts, slouching, mumbling, and flat out lying. Students who had attended enough required lectures were leaving. What I noticed next was that all of the people leaving were newer students. Many of the people who I knew as my teachers, and mentors stayed. I decided to stay. At the end of the lecture I went up to one of the teachers who had stayed and asked them why. Why would you stay when the lecture was so horrible? The teacher replied
“It is custom here that even the young are seen as teacher because everyone can teach you something, no matter how old or young. What was it about this speech that was so horrible?”
My friend replied the teacher was slouching and mumbling, and didn’t say anything I didn’t already know.
“Well instead of noticing these things and critiquing take these things and learn. Now you know how not to give a lecture. Learn from this experience and apply it to your life when you give a lecture.”
I had a sponsor once with 25 years clean who loved hanging out with ‘newcomers’ (people who had 30 days or less sobriety). He told me once: Never tune out a newcomer. You will always hear from people with time, but you may not always get the chance to hear for a ‘newcomer’, and they have much to say. Newcomers have taught me just as much as old-timers. They just teach me different things. A newcomer is a stronger reminder to me not to relapse than any old-timer could ever be.
Take time to listen. No matter who it is. You can learn from everyone.