A philosophy of sharing and a truth about teaching

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?

  • http://georgezamfir.com George Zamfir

    Today I read 2 blog posts, yours and Kevin Kelly’s (I want his domain name, kk.org :) ), both on the power of sharing.

    I always had a (philosophical) debate with myself with regards to sharing and I would always find reasons against it. Who cares, it’s not helpful, not enough time, etc.

    This really struck a cord with me and I admire the simplicity with which you presented your philosophy.

    p.s. I’m an automation buff as well and I think I can relate even more :)

    • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

      I was intrigued by that. As it turns out, Kevin Kelly has lots of blog posts… Link? =)

  • http://windmillnetworking.com Neal Schaffer

    Hey Sacha,

    Thank you so much again for all of the inspiration. I agree 100% with you that it’s not about the tools at all, it’s about what you use them for. I got obsessed with SlideShare because I always thought of blogging and YouTube as being primary ways of sharing, so meeting you reminded me of why I need to add SlideShare to the mix ;-)

    The important thing is about sharing…and I love you thought-process on how, by sharing, you grow and move on to bigger things. It really is true when you say “I want other people to be able to do even awesomer things than I have.” This is exactly what I tell my peers when I have left previous companies, to outperform me, and in doing so we all move up the ladder of growth.

    Thanks again for the inspiration and the reminder of the importance of sharing.

    @NealSchaffer
    http://windmillnetworking.com

  • http://georgezamfir.com George Zamfir

    Yes, absolutely! Some of his essays (I’m calling them that because they’re super lengthy) are just extraordinary, many times I concluded that he’s way ahead of our times.

    Here’s the article I read – Digital Socialism

  • http://similarcircles.blogspot.com Dennie

    You’ve captured my entire belief system so beautifully! You rock!
    Knowledge transfer/sharing is the future and our humanity. Thank you.

  • http://www.trajano.net/ Archimedes Trajano

    Two things you may want to add

    #1 Don’t forget to add yourself as a catch (Exception e) { } block to what you teach for your teams.
    #2 Give authorship of the instructions to the person you are teaching asap. Let them update the cases you forgot or didn’t think of in the documentation.

  • http://punchagan.wordpress.com punchagan

    Awesome post, Sacha!

    “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. ”

    “I’m only here for a short time. We all are. Why waste it? Why waste the future? ”

    I’m on the job of internalizing these two things! Thanks for the great post!

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Glad I can help you find words that resonate with you!