Last Friday, at my 6th annual Turbulence Training fitness summit, I stood on stage at the Westin Hotel in Westminster, Colorado, and preached. My sermon taught the audience how to use the 5 Pillars of Success to change any aspect of their life and overcome every obstacles in their way.
But during my presentation, it dawned on me that I could also be doing a better job of taking action and overcoming my own limiting beliefs. It was clear I needed this speech as much, if not even more than they did. It was time to take my own advice.
As I wrapped up and stepped off the stage, it hit me. The teacher had become the student. Even though I had just taught for an entire morning, I felt like I was the person in the room that had gotten the most benefit from the content.
“While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca.
From ancient history through to today, humans have realized that when you teach lessons to others, you end up learning more than the student. That’s why the best way to develop a greater understanding of any material is to play the role of the teacher and explain it to a student.
It’s even better when your students challenge you. The more questions they ask you, and the greater their skepticism, the more you have to properly articulate your answers and justify your beliefs. It’s much better to teach actively engaged minds than passive people.
Nothing is better than working one-on-one with a cynical student. It demands that you think critically about your beliefs, and it forces to build a stronger argument for your position while also simplifying your message. The best teacher is someone that can take a complex topic and distill it to easy-to-understand principles.
Finally, you learn and become a better teach through adapting your tone and delivery based on their non-verbal responses. For example, if you notice your audience scrolling through their smartphones during a section of your sermon, you’re getting critical feedback that this part of your presentation needs work. It’s not that the audience is being rude, it’s just that you’re being boring!
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Back in my days as a personal trainer to the richest men and women in Toronto, my favorite clients were the ones that demanded to know why I was giving them a specific exercise, using a new technique, or encouraging them to eat a certain way.
If I struggled to explain something, their critical gazes would let me know loud and clear that my reasoning wasn’t sound. This caused me to put more work into my study and honing my craft so that I delivered an even better and more effective fat loss program. It also helped me improve my own body transformation results.
That’s why, if your goal is to transform your life in any way, it’s helpful to become a mentor to someone else that seeks the same goals. By explaining your new habits, you will better understand their importance, and furthermore, you will become more committed to these new behaviors. When you act as a teacher you want to maintain integrity and act in a way that is consistent with what you just taught. After all, a hypocrite is a lousy teacher… and a lousy person.
But teaching goes beyond just strengthening your knowledge. Teaching makes you a better human being, too.
I’d like to update Seneca’s quote with a dose of 21st-century personal development. To do this, we’ll turn to my friend Frank McKinney, who once said, “You cannot brighten another’s path without lighting your own.”
I believe it. I’ve experienced it time and time again. There’s not much work in the world that can make you feel as fulfilled as teaching others. Each time I step on stage to teach and preach, I forget my selfish worries and problems, and leave the stage a better man. Each time I create a video explaining fitness tips, time management, productivity or creative writing techniques, it elevates my mood and leaves me with a satisfied smile.
This approach is simple to apply in our own lives. Whatever you know, you can simply follow these two rules for becoming a wiser and better person. First, you must practice what you preach. Second, you must practice preaching it.
Try it today. Teach someone something. It could be showing your child how to tie their shoes, or it could be sharing a simple productivity tip with a colleague. No matter what you teach or preach, you’ll feel better for it.
The big lesson for you is that if you want to improve yourself, then you MUST become a teacher and mentor to more people.
The teacher always learns as much, if not more, than the student.
And the more you learn, the more you can help others, and the positive cycle continues and expands, making you better and better at what you do, and allowing you to help more and more people.
Teaching others can also lift you out of the dark dips we all experience in life.
When you’re down, and troubled, and you need a helping hand, your best solution is to become the helping hand to someone else.
When you teach others what you know, when you share your knowledge, when you add value, this can deliver you from mild depression, from a scarcity mindset, and from a lack of clarity. Teaching will give you a natural high. You’ll do something good for others, and better yet, you’ll do something great for yourself. All the while you’ll improve your understanding of the material at the same time.
That’s why you actually benefit more from teaching than the student does.
Trust me, every single time I’ve opened my expertise and shared it with others, I’ve left with new ideas, a better understanding, a clearer vision of the problem (and the solution that can be implemented), a feeling of gratitude for the knowledge that I have, and thankfulness for the ability to shine a little light into someone’s life.
As an ETR reader you know more about success, productivity, building a business, and sales than 99% of the world. You could share a tip or two each day with colleagues that struggle in any one of those areas. Not only would it boost their performance, but you’d also improve your own work habits. When you did that, you would also benefit because it would make you more aware and committed to making similar changes in your own life. And of course, it will leave you with a smile on your face when you see the light bulb go off in their eyes.
Don’t tell me you don’t have anything to teach the world. In most areas of life, you don’t need to be a certified instructor or a genius in order to impart a little wisdom to a friend, a colleague, or a mentee. You just need to pass along what you know. Everyone wins when you do that.
It doesn’t matter if you are teaching a physical skill or a mental attribute, you cannot be a good teacher without making yourself better. When you instruct by example, it leads you to live by example. The lessons become more deeply ingrained in your mind. Keep on pushing and teaching. And that will make all the difference in your life.
“Show your character and commitment through your actions.” – Epictetus