For most of my grade school years, I was convinced I wanted to be a teacher when I grow up.
Looking back, I find it peculiar that one of the first questions people ask kids is what they want to be when they grow up. I’m sure their motivation is innocent — the answers are fascinating and the optimism of a young child is hard to beat. Nonetheless, it creates a sense that you are supposed to know what you want to do with your entire life when you are a mere five years old. Even as I approach thirty-five years old, I often feel like I have no idea! But, I digress . . .
Although I ultimately chose a different career path, I keep finding myself coming back to this intrinsic desire to teach. I am happiest as an attorney when I am mentoring young lawyers. [Case in point: Yesterday, I spent an hour helping a new lawyer write her first big brief on a case that I have no role in whatsoever. Yes, I’m a sucker, but I was glad that she came to me for advice.] I often care more about the PR goals of the runners I am coaching than my own training or performance. [Case in point: Minutes after crossing the finish line in St. George, all I could think about was the times of my other runners who were racing that weekend.] And some of my fondest memories in the kitchen come from my cooking classes.
What I’ve learned from these experiences is that I get as much out of teaching others as they (hopefully) do out of being taught. Each of us has a passion — or, in some cases, several passions — that we’ve taken the time to nurture. Whether it’s writing, running, cycling, cooking, swimming, golfing, photography, scrapbooking, or even crocheting, what’s the point of having all that knowledge if you don’t share it with others?
Want to really test your knowledge about your specialty? Try teaching it someone else. I assure you that whomever coined the phrase “Those who can’t do, teach” was dead wrong.
Finding yourself in a creative slump or lacking motivation? Find a new kid on the block whose enthusiasm will get your blood pumping and remind you what ignited your passion in the first place.
When you take the time to teach others, you brighten someone’s day. You keep your passions alive. You learn something new about them. And you learn something new about yourself.
Go ahead, try it.