You are not a Jedi Knight.
…I said to myself, while closing Periscope and staring out the window for a while, thinking.
Then I tweeted this.
You've lost me at "we are the Jedi Knights of…". Guru, rock star… Stop making it about pedestals. Make it about lessons you've learned.
— Andreeeeeeeeaaaaaa! (@brandalisms) February 4, 2016
I feel I need to go more in-depth. Because this is important to highlight. Real leadership doesn’t start with climbing onto a pedestal. It starts with following a path.
The difference between ‘’I know’’ and ‘’I’ve learned’’ matters and has real impact and real consequences.
If you are someone who has knowledge to share you also have the responsibility of doing it so thoughtfully. How you frame your discourse has an impact on how your message is received. Or if it is, at all. Starting with ‘’I know’’ creates an immediate barrier or widens the gap that already exists between you and your audience.
‘’I know’’ is definite. It has no context. There is no beginning and no end. ‘’I’ve learned’’ has context. If in the first case, there is an immediate barrier to understanding where the learning happened, in the second instance, you can relate.
‘’I know’’ is alienating. ‘’I learned’’ brings you closer through empathy. You can suddenly relate. You start seeing the steps towards understanding, towards making the necessary learnings in order to get the resolution you require.
I have done a good bit of teaching in the last five years. I was a lecturer, a department Head, a mentor, a speaker and a consultant in incubators and accelerators. My Product Management lectures were industry driven. Were experience driven. I brought in speakers when I felt there were important learnings to be shared. And what aaaaaaall my teaching experiences have taught me was that finding similarity within experiences is the key to learning.
It is what makes things click. Similarity.
But you won’t get that by declaring that ‘’you know’’.
Why is any of this important?
Because alienating within the learning process – or even before the learning process has started – can be devastating.
I have always loved people who declared that they were ‘’students’’ of a field or another, rather than gurus, ninjas, experts, Jedi’s or rock stars. Even if they were at it for decades.
You want people to read your blog, register to your webinar, attend your workshop or buy your book? Stay away from putting yourself onto a pedestal. That’s not your job, that’s just a consequence of others deciding that you know.
How you frame your discourse is crucial and dictates your impact. A new study shows everyone is bombarded by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day (report by ZenithOptimedia). In the US households consume about 6.9 zettabytes — 6.9 million MILLION gigabytes, per year. And every day the average person produces six newspapers worth of information.
Make sure how you do it creates meaning, not distance.
And just don’t be an ass (not sure if any of you followed this article this week, it really upset us, we found it incredibly offensive – a good example of seeing how you frame your discourse can impact negatively within the learning process).
Do not forget. Not everybody wants to learn new things. So if you find yourself teaching and you are lucky enough to be in the company of learners, make sure you check yourself.