Teach What You Need To Learn

A few years ago, a fellow baseball player taught me an amazing batting technique.

Using it, I managed to crank what was my last at-bat of the season far into left field, bringing in at least two runs.

Later on, I learned that the player who taught me that same technique had not himself been having a good batting week, and had struck out several times.

Oddly enough, that knowledge didn’t change anything about that last at-bat, though it was implied at the time I should be careful where I get my batting tips from.

Robert Pirsig wrote that “the world’s biggest fool can say the sun is shining, but that doesn’t make it dark out.”

You may know someone who has absolutely zero formal training at a skill who can nonetheless do it better than most veterans of that same talent. You may also know someone who can’t do what they’re telling you to do, but somehow they’re able to teach you to do it in a very successful way.

In the so-called “hard” fields such as medicine, engineering, chemistry, physics, defence, and law, you want people who are qualified AND capable. That’s a given. I’m speaking mostly of the so-called “soft” fields: the arts, personal development, sales and marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, and the like. Even then, I know a few “professionals” whose advice on creative writing is excellent and has little to do with their “careers” or “education” (or even their own writing portfolios!).

Sometimes we need to first teach that which we ourselves need to learn. This is often very true in personal and professional coaching (though you can also see it in other fields, like the arts, sales, and entrepreneurship). Whether as a formal paid coaching arrangement or even just as free advice, it often doesn’t matter if your benefactor is able to do the things that he or she is suggesting you do for yourself, as long as you suddenly find yourself acquiring the confidence and talents you’ve been looking to develop.

In all education, institutional and real life, all that matters is that your teacher imparts knowledge and empowers you to perform your new skill with excellence and joy.

“Do as I say, not as I do” is still as relevant today as it ever was, in a few cases.
If you doubt this to be true, I know of at least one befuddled left fielder who would say otherwise.

Batter up.


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