This guest post is by my friend Mark Dykeman. Mark Dykeman is the founder and main brain of Thoughtwrestling, a blog devoted to better ideas, better achievements and better life. For more great ideas, follow Mark on Twitter
Margie honored me by including me in her group of teachers to follow on Twitter. The thing is, I’m not a teacher. But I am… sort of…
I’m surrounded by teachers in my family tree. Everywhere I look there’s chalkdust and exercise scribblers strewn about the branches of my genealogical cedar. (I like the smell of cedar, plus it’s an evergreen. Evergreen is good.) Both of my parents spent a lot of years in classrooms, trying to insert knowledge into audiences of varying receptiveness.
Teacher used to be a dirty word
I never wanted to be a teacher and I’ve never had that word in my job title. I never wanted it to be my job, never wanted to deal with children on a daily basis and I never thought that the summers off was really that much of a carrot. Students have a love/hate relationship with teachers. Teachers sometimes have to take a lot of crap from their students. Classroom teaching doesn’t equate to fun for a lot of people (which is an unfortunate thing).
However, we’re faced with many opportunities to teach, whether it’s on the job, as an informal mentor, a friend, or a parent. With rare exceptions, we always have some bit of information that someone out there doesn’t have. Actually, I’m not sure that I have anything to teach Bill Gates or Steve Jobs: it depends how many comic books they’ve read in the past two decades. But I digress.
Who teaches the experts?
You know how someone watches the stuff you do and sees something completely different? That’s how I feel about Margie’s comment. This isn’t a criticism, just a surprised reaction on my part. When Margie referred to me as a “teacher” within Third Tribe (3T), an online community that we both belong to, I was really surprised. I mean, that place is full of entrepreneurs. Pretty much all of them are more successful than 90% of the people who “work for themselves” for a living.
What in heck can I teach those guys? It’s like a leaf telling a tree how to get big and strong. I am not an entrepreneur, at least not in the self-employed sense.
There are three thoughts that have allowed me to get my head around her kudo. So, let me teach (!) them to you, dear reader.
Keep on learning
Good teachers don’t stand still. They continue to learn. They read about their subject matter, their skills and techniques. They practice and refine their delivery. They try different things. Many of them go back to school themselves on a regular basis! I’m a lifelong learner, no question about it. So yes, this fits.
Share what you know
Despite my lack of entrepreneurial experience, I do try to share things from my own experience. I’ve been doing that on my blogs for years. I’ve done it in a work context many times and outside of work as well. I’ve shared parts of my online (social media) knowledge in a number of places. So, yes, I’ve probably earned the Share badge in social media scouting.
Here’s the way I look at it. You might not be a genius or a master, but there’s always someone somewhere who might benefit from your experiences. If nothing else, cautionary tales are valuable!
Like I mentioned above, you always know something that someone else doesn’t know. If you’ve been an active member of a community for awhile then you’ve absorbed knowledge. If you see someone asking questions, especially beginner questions, you’ve just found an excellent opportunity to be helpful. Just think of the kid who’s lost on their way to their homeroom at school… you could be a hero to them by giving them five seconds of help.
Learning and teaching is a continual cycle
Maybe I am a teacher, even if that’s not my official title. That’s OK. In fact, it’s pretty cool. Any occasion to make a positive difference in someone’s life is an important opportunity. The thing is, you don’t always know when your knowledge can be the thing that turns a frustrating situation into a happy ending. It pays to keep your eyes open just in case.
Bonus: if you keep learning and growing, you will find many more opportunities to help people, which is really what teaching is.
So, Margie, you were right: I am a teacher. But so is Margie. And you can be, too.
Being a teacher is not a dirty word. It’s just a part of being human.
[Editor’s Note from Margie…I told you so 🙂 ]
Image by Piotr Lewandowski. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ywel