June 27, 2014
Take The Time To Teach
Everyone has a different set of life experiences as well as a different set of skills and background. As a result there is always something to be learned from everyone you meet. Sometimes this is less obvious than others but there’s always something to be learned. You should take the time to teach what you know to others.
There’s a flip side to this idea of you learning from others; you have something of value to share. Your background and experiences make you an excellent candidate to share and teach your knowledge to someone else. And yet I know many people are hesitant. They make excuses and they keep to themselves. Here’s a few common reasons and my replies to each.
“I’m Too Shy”
This is a common one, in fact quite possibly the most common. People like to claim they are too shy to speak up and talk to others. While I understand completely the introvert nature (in fact, I identify most with the introvert personality type) I believe the claim to be shy is a poor excuse. I’ve read many articles (Inc Magazine, Susan Cain, and more) who very plainly point out that introverts actually make for better speakers.
I won’t take the time to go into the various reasons why I agree with the focus of these articles — I encourage you to read them for yourself. However, I will say as an introvert and naturally shy person myself; the claim of shyness for not speaking is a poor excuse.
“I’m Not An Expert”
As I shared in the introduction, this is simply not true. You may feel you are not an expert, and this may indeed be the case. I’ve found no matter how much I learn about a subject and no matter how deep I go in my learning of a particular area there is always someone who knows more. Always. But I’ve learned another interesting fact. Just as there is always someone that knows more there seems to always be someone that knows less.
My experiences and the things I have learned are still considered expert by someone else. I can share what I know and help them learn. The concept of being an expert is a funny one because most people never view themselves as an expert, regardless of how much they know of a subject. The truth is your knowledge is unique and you should share it.
“I Don’t Have The Time”
I guarantee you, you have the time. You may lack the motivation, the interest, or the enthusiasm. You absolutely can have the time. How can I be so sure? Because those things you place value on you find time for. You make the time.
Teaching someone else is a wonderful opportunity unlike anything else. It only takes a minute to teach someone a single concept. No one says you have to jump directly in to teaching a 12 week instructional course. Start small — just start. Set goals which you can easily accomplish. Small goals that may take only 10 or 15 minutes. Write a short paragraph about how you do something.
“I’m Not Sure Where To Start”
This is a great problem to have. I say it’s a great problem because it means you already acknowledge that you can do it. You are willing to teach someone what you know and you merely need to figure out how and where to get started. I love this reason. Get started anywhere. Do you like writing or talking? Do you like things done on-the-fly or rather with a lot of preparation? Answer these questions and it will be easier to decide how to get started.
If you prefer writing, start a blog. If you prefer public speaking check out what events are close by and have a call for speakers. Like preparing? Do recorded videos and screenshares. Prefer in-person live communication? Look at programs where you can be a mentor to someone else. (Do you do PHP? Here’s a great opportunity – http://phpmentoring.org)
So there’s just a few excuses (rather poor excuses) commonly made for not being willing to teach. I should close by saying a few important things to remember about taking the time to teach.
Not Everyone Is A Teacher
First, not everyone is a teacher. Taking the time to teach is very, very different from being a teacher. You can teach someone how to do a particular thing without being a teacher. I touched on this idea briefly in the post above, I’m not referring necessarily to teaching a 12 week course – leave that to the professionals. (Interested in teaching a longer course? Let me know!) I do believe everyone can share their knowledge. Everyone can teach something.
Because You Care
Second, teach something you care about. Don’t try to tackle something you’re not familiar with or have an interest in. Remember, you’re teaching from your experiences, you’re sharing knowledge you have. That puts significantly less pressure on you then attempting to learn a subject just to teach someone else. You’re sharing what you know. Take the time to teach because you should care. You should care about helping others, and you should care about making sure your knowledge and experience is continued forward. Don’t let the skills you possess die with you.
Because It Matters
Last, take the time because it matters. If you’re sharing what you know and you’re sharing something you care about – then it matters. It doesn’t have to matter to everyone (You’re not trying to teach the world). Find the niche and the tribe of people interested in what you are interested in. Seek out your place and share what you know because it matters to them. It matters to all of us.
We’re all in this together! Let’s share our knowledge.