Learn by teaching

I spoke in my last blog post about how I am planning to create some products that I hope will help people to take control of their lives.

The first one is well on its way and is going to be all about how to handle stress.

This is not a sales page though! You can have a look at my sales page another day if you like. But right now, I’d rather talk to you about why helping others is the best way to help yourself.

You see, aside from the warm fuzzy feeling you get from feeling like you have made a difference to someone – and that is a genuinely great feeling – there is a slightly more selfish reason …

When you explain how to do something to someone else, you need to be 100% clear about what you are talking about, so that you can convey your meaning clearly.

This means that you tend to get to grips with your subject matter in a much more comprehensive and deep way.

I knew this from my experience as an educator. There have been many times when I have had to explain something to someone and I haven’t really understood the concept fully myself, but by the very act of preparing to teach and then doing it, I managed to gain a really sound grasp.

I think this is something that everyone should do, to … if you like, ‘trick’ your brain into learning.

One approach is to actually make sure that you do have to explain what you are learning to someone else. For example, if you are learning a new skill, then why not arrange to teach it to someone else as you are learning.

After everything you learn, meet up with your ‘pupil’ and explain all you have uncovered as clearly as possible. And I pretty much guarantee that you will leave with a much clearer grasp of the subject than you had before you explained it.

This is definitely a great time to be trying to learn (and teach), as we have never had such an abundance of information.

Now that has its own challenges of course – I expect you, too have suffered at some point in your life from Information Overload?

I’m sure you can recognise the signs … going round and round in circles, unsure what to do next, reading more informatioon to try to make sense of the huge amount you already have …

And then realising that actually MORE information is actually not always helpful. Many of us are paralysed by not being able to see the wood for the trees, not being able to distill the important elements from a problem, or worse, not being able to even understand the problem we have – never mind actually solve it!

This is why having the skill of being able to focus on what is important and find that information is such a great life skill. You would think that this would be taught really well at school and collage, but in my experinece that is not always the case.

In fact, if we are honest, we could all do with improving our ability in this area. So, as well as telling you all next week about my new anti-stress program (which you might be interested in ?!), I am also going to write a blog post all about getting clarity and focus on a subject so that you can learn it.

This is a great skill to have and you will be able to apply it in a number of different way:

1. Learn a new subject (a hobby, past-time or new language)
2. Improve your productivityy at work or in your business
3. Make yourself more marketable (to gain a promotion or new job)
4. Be a more knowledgeable, cultured individual (improve your relationships)
5. Know how to handle complexity (and reduce stress in your life)

Just to give you an insight into how developing this skill has helped me, I would like to share with you something that has already paid for itself.

When I decided that I wanted to write a blog I knew next to nothing about how to set one up. I realised that I had two options – 1. Learn how to do it, and 2. Pay someone to do it for me.

To start off with I chose to pay someone to do it, and that was a mistake. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t outsource tasks that you can’t do well or that will free up more time for you to concentrate on what you do best.

It’s just that in this case, getting someone else to do ot for me was a short cut to the outcome I wanted but without me gaining the skills I would need longer-term.

If you have a blog of your own, then you will know what I mean. You can get it set up how you think you will want it to look, but then you will have no idea how to change it so that it evolves to meet your developing needs over time.

So, in the end I did learn how to do it. It wasn’t easy, but I now know how to change it and what is going on ‘behind the scenes’. This knowledge has already helped me with other projects I’m involved with, so it absolutely was time well-spent in my mind.

But the best outcome of all, is the knowledge that I have learned a new, transferable skill and that I am continuing to grow as a person.

To me, that knowledge is worth all of the struggles and frustration.

I’d love to hear how you deal with Information Overload. What do you do when you have too many options? How do you decide what to focus on?

Also, please let me know if you think that some training on getting focused and clear on how to learn a new skill is something you would be interested in. Please comment below.

Cheers for now,

Tony

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