Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Teach And Learn

One of the best ways to learn is to teach. This may seem counter-intuitive, but once you’ve experienced this phenomenon, you’ll completely understand what I mean. It does, however, require significant humility on the part of the teacher.

There are a few ways this can work, but the most basic and obvious is this: in order to teach something, you must be able to clearly articulate the process to someone who doesn’t know it. Trust me, this is trickier than it might seem. For starters, although you may have mastered (or at least fully understand) some skill or process, that doesn’t mean you can break it down and explain it. Part of being an expert at something involves the concept that you have internalized the skills required to master it, and this means that you no longer consciously think about how to do it. The days of thinking about why have long passed, it has now become a subconscious process where you just know “what to do.” So in order to teach this, you have to back up and break down each step and be able to explain why. The act of doing this further refines and cements your understanding of whatever it is you are teaching.

Here’s where the humility part comes in: inevitably, the one being taught will ask questions the teacher doesn’t know the answer to. I like to start my relationship with the student by stating up front, “There will be times when I won’t know the answer to your question – when that happens we’ll look it up and learn together.” You are being honest, which builds trust, and virtually guaranteed to learn something in the process. A win-win!

Most importantly, once you get comfortable with teaching, it is extremely gratifying and fun to watch and help someone grow and develop. The free exchange of knowledge and ideas between humans is something that is hardwired into all of us.

Try freely giving something back and watch yourself  grow in the process.