July 29, 2010

A philosophy of sharing and a truth about teaching

July 29, 2010 - Categories: life, reflection

SCHEDULED: 2010-07-29 Thu 08:00

/Neal Schaffer thanked me for teaching him the zen of Slideshare. He confessed that as a consultant, he still finds it occasionally difficult to give away what he knows. Here, I explore my philosophy and why tools are an afterthought./

I want to give away everything I know. I want to push what I’ve learned into the system. I want to make my current self obsolete. In the process, I push myself forward.

I like connecting people, and I love strengthening the infrastructure that enables connection even more. I like delighting people by solving problems, and I love building tools so that people can solve their own and imagine new possibilities. I like helping people improve, and I love helping them develop their own practice of relentless improvement.

I want to be invaluable. I would hate to be indispensable. What I work on is much bigger than I am, and I would hate to put it at significant risk if something happened to me. Not only do I want to be replaceable, I want other people to be able to do even awesomer things than I have.

Even though I keep trying to teach and automate myself out of work, I can’t keep up–opportunities open up faster than I can turn them over to someone else.

So here is one of the Truths I aspire to:

*If you can, teach. If you can’t teach, do.*

This is why I write notes on as much as I can. This is why I share as much of that as I can through blogs, presentations, and other tools. The more I can push out into the universe, the more I can learn, the more I can share, the more we all can do.

Don’t wait until you retire. Share now. You’re going to forget important details an hour from now, so start writing.

When you’ve got this kind of urge inside you, then tools are easy. Writing on a computer lets me capture more words than writing by hand. Drawing lets me express concepts that are hard to describe with only words. Blogging lets me reach more people and make my notes available to searchers. Presentations let me learn from people’s questions. Sharing those files takes me a minute or two, and lets me reach even more people.

Tools are not the focus. Sharing is.

If I can teach the parts I understand well enough to teach and automate the parts that are repetitive enough to automate, we can focus on the interesting, novel, challenging possibilities. We can move forward so much more. I’m only here for a short time. We all are. Why waste it? Why waste the future?