Read, write and teach: steps to becoming a guru
An old saying says:
To read is to learn, to remember
To write is to absorb, to improve
To teach is to master
Many of us aspire to be recognized by a series of skills or knowledge in a specific field. Many dream of being the “guru” (in the good sense of the term) of their specialization, the person of reference in their field, their market niche, the one that everyone cites when they talk about a specific topic. Becoming experts, gurus or specialists in an area of knowledge requires that we develop our particular skill in detail, that we acquire experience, that we master it, that we have lived it and understood it first-hand. Nobody can become an expert in something if he has not demonstrated before that he really is.
Every skill or knowledge we wish to master must necessarily pass through a series of maturing stages until we have it so assimilated and soaked that it is already part of us and of our subconscious. Acquiring that new skill or knowledge, developing it, improving it and mastering it is a process that can be more or less long, depending on how much we apply to its integration and learning, although it is inevitable that we go through it.
We have all been through a learning period in which we swallowed one textbook after another. It is one of the most normal methods to learn something new: read a book, a study, a newspaper, a manual. Most of us learn well by reading, we get information that we assimilate. We store data and concepts within and then we process them. By reading we lay the foundations for learning something new. It is the first stage of knowledge acquisition, but it is also common for us to stay in it after the reading is finished. The “experts” who have only read things and talk about them are discovered by the lack of order and clarity in the different assimilated concepts. It is the student who vomits what has been memorized, the presentation of a topic that we have learned the night before or the professional who sells himself having read only a couple of books.
The next step of our path to being a “guru” is to learn to write down the knowledge gained. Writing about something we have learned forces us to reflect, to order ideas, to summarize and to assimilate. Writing about a topic improves our ability to understand it. We realize that if we know how to explain it to ourselves we will be able to transmit it to another medium from the realm of thoughts. It is the one who has read a lot, has understood it and starts writing articles, books, essays, reports to transmit it to others. A blog, for example, is just one of those means to strengthen the second phase, the recognition, and transmission of information that others will read in their first phase. We are not yet “gurus” in our field, but perhaps we can already begin to be recognized for our work.
The stage of recognition as a world expert only comes when we are able to teach others in a generalized way what we have learned so that we can consider we successfully transmitted the knowledge, and so we now know that we have completed the learning cycle. Teaching requires having completely assimilated the new knowledge, knowing how to explain it and transmit it, understanding it deeply to tell it coherently. Only when we know how to teach something to another person, can we then validate that we have completed the learning of what we studied.
Climb a step
We can all become experts, not through marketing operations but through demonstrating that we have learned and that we can help others with our knowledge. We all have a field where we can make a place for ourselves as the reference person, do you know which one yours is? And if so, do you know in what phase you are in? Wherever you are, I encourage you to climb a step. If you only read, write, if you write, teach. If you already write and teach, read again, because there is always new knowledge and skill to acquire for our development and for those we seek to support.