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November 8, 2022

You Can Teach

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We’ve been misguided to believe that we need a certain amount of expertise to teach something. We’ve bought into a false expectation that you need to have credentials that give you authority to share knowledge on a subject. While that might be true for some topics and at certain levels, the majority of things fall into a more informal category.

A lot of us rely on credentials to determine who is qualified to teach something, but I think there’s value in deconstructing exactly what credentials are communicating. First, when you get a credential it means that you invested the time to learn a subject. Credentials come on the back end of completing a curriculum on a subject, which gives you the knowledge you need to effectively understand something. But more importantly a credential also gives you permission. Instead of having an internal debate about your level of knowledge on something, the credential tells you that you are fully trained and qualified.

But here’s the thing - Both outcomes of getting a credential can be accomplished in other ways. For example you can learn from personal experience and self-education to acquire meaningful knowledge. Just because it isn’t structured education does not mean that it’s not valuable. 

Now on the permission side, that’s a matter of the ego. A credential creates a layer of protection on top of your ego so that you’re more comfortable taking action. It gives you a strong argument if someone disagrees that you have the authority to talk about something. But setting your ego aside and putting yourself out there accomplishes the same thing. You can give yourself the right to teach and prove your knowledge.

To make this more practical, here’s a benchmark for you. I’ve found that 6 months of studying, experiencing, or reflecting on something is enough time to develop an expertise on a subject. You don’t need to know everything to teach, you just need to know more than the person you’re teaching, and half a year usually gives you a well-rounded understanding that could help others.

You are most qualified to help people who are going through what you’ve been through. That’s the school of “hard knocks”, and the world will be a better place if we all helped each other get through what we’ve gone through.

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