“Doing the thing” and “teaching the thing” are two unique sets of skills.
While there are some rare great doers who also are great teachers of the same skill, this type is hard to find. If you’re good at doing, you don’t necessarily need to know how to teach it to anyone else.
On the other hand, there are great performers who couldn’t explain what they do if you paid them to teach you. Maybe it’s because they’re a “natural” at it. Perhaps they just don’t consider the “why” behind the “what.”
And there are people who weren’t / aren’t so great at doing something — but they have a strong enough grasp of what they lack to be equipped to teach others — even teaching people who are better than them, the teacher.
What’s the more valuable skill? Let’s compare them logically.
If you can do something, you enjoy a healthy amount of built-in credibility. You can build an audience of people who enjoy seeing you do your stuff.
Here are some things you should consider, however.
1) As soon as you can no longer do what you do, or if anything — time, injury, prior commitments — preclude you from doing what you do, you’re out of the game.
You’re useful only for as long as you can perform. You are 100% of your business. You are your own limitation.
2) When you’re good at doing, your impact reaches as far as you can travel by plane. And, as of the writing of this article, humans can only be in one place at a time.
So, no matter how good you are, you’re always stuck being where you are.
3) Eventually, people want to know what about watching you is going to help them.
Every show eventually gets old.
Now, let’s look at teaching the thing.
Teachers have two advantages.
1) Your ability to do the thing matters a lot less. Your only “performance” is in teaching others.
2) When you learn to codify and modulate your knowledge, your impact goes from one-off (your ability to perform) to one-to-many (as many as you can physically get into a room or digitally logged into a website).
Teaching reaches more people, and requires you to be less of a star to make an impact. Plus, you last longer in the game.
It’s not that teaching is so much easier than doing — it’s higher-leverage. And it’s less reliant on talent than doing.
In conclusion: anything you’re good at, start thinking about how you’d teach it. Develop and understanding of why and how you do what you do. Consider how you’d break it down for someone who knew absolutely nothing about what you did.
You might have a great next-career on your hands.
What are you good at doing, but need to learn to teach? Reply and let me know — I read all responses.
See the following masterclasses on teaching and explaining what you know (as there is an art to it):
#1101: Codification Of Your Knowledge
#1111: Knowledge Entrepreneurs: Remove Yourself From The Equation
#1010: How To Build Your Personal Brand On Commodities Like Information and Knowledge
#556: Expertise: If You Can’t Teach It, You Don’t Know It
#634: What School Doesn’t Teach — But You MUST Know
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