Finding Joy in Teaching

January 2, 2021

Looking for a surefire way to develop seniority and unlock confidence at work? Find opportunities to teach.

Teaching can look like this:

  • Leading small workshops for your team about a particular topic you’re an expert in.
  • Onboarding or training new employees when they start.
  • Even providing feedback to your colleagues if you include a coaching aspect to the feedback.

Doing any of these properly has one prerequisite: A fundamental belief that you have something valuable to share.

What might hold you back?

The fear that you don’t have the skills to pull it off.

Take soft skills as an example. Soft skills are notoriously difficult to train because they’re always a little subjective. What you’re training can’t be memorized, it’s a perspective and a way of interacting.

How can you package soft skills in a way that’s practical and applicable? What does good communication look like? How can you give feedback that’s helpful and constructive, despite falling into all of the common fallacies of feedback?

When you’re new in your role, it’s easy to assume that you don’t know what you’re talking about. That comes from a lack of self-confidence. But the only way to develop that self-confidence is to jump head-first and try to develop those skills yourself.

Rubber duck debugging

Have you ever heard of rubber duck debugging?

It’s a concept in programming that says: When you’re trying to debug a problem in your software and you’re stuck, find yourself a rubber duck. Put it in front of your computer. And then explain the problem to the rubber duck.

Something about explaining problems to other people (or ducks, as the case may be) not only makes them digestible but also shines a different light on the solution. That’s why finding joy and fun in teaching can make a massive difference to your work.

These are some of the advantages of spending a little bit of time on teaching in the workplace.

Benefits of teaching at work

The four primary benefits for you are:

  • It forces you to deepen your knowledge and understanding.
  • You develop a new skill that’s valuable in its own right.
  • You have a broader impact at work, which means you contribute at a higher level.
  • You can watch others apply your knowledge and succeed. There’s nothing more rewarding than that.

Deepening your knowledge

Having to explain anything to someone else, no matter how well you know it, means your understanding of it has to be on point.

Just going through the process of figuring out exactly how to explain it and how to make sure the other person can retain it will deepen your knowledge and understanding until it’s bulletproof. It forces you to identify all of the current gaps you have, the parts that you naturally gloss over. There’s a huge gap between listening to something, applying it, and explaining it.

Once you get to the point of being able to explain it well, that’s something you’ll probably remember and know it forever.

Developing a new skill

Teaching is such an incredibly difficult skill to develop.

Think back to your high school days: Do you remember how many good teachers you had? What were your favorite teachers like? What were the least popular teachers like?

The great teachers I’ve encountered throughout my entire academic life, from kindergarten to university, can be counted on one hand.

Teaching other people means understanding what motivates them, how they learn, approaching problems at their level, and identifying how your biases prevent you from reaching them. You’ll also have to learn different methods, tools, and philosophies, and how to apply them.

Having an impact

Having an impact is an intrinsic motivator.

The best employees to have and the best colleagues to work with are the ones that inspire and influence the people around them. Imagine asking a question at work and having someone answer it so perfectly that it feels like something clicks. The picture you see is suddenly in higher resolution.

Those are the types of moments worth chasing because they allow you to contribute not just to your company, but also to your team.

Rewarded through the success of others

“The greater the effort, the sweeter the reward.”

The harder you have to work at something, the more rewarding it is if you finally succeed. It’s so much easier to do something yourself than to help a beginner do the same thing. When people around you apply what you teach them with no difficulty, you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment and pride.

Grow in seniority and expertise in your current role, whatever that looks like, by making teaching a habit. If the opportunity comes your way, even if it’s scary and you aren’t sure you’re the best person for it, try it out. Chances are, you’ll be grateful for the experience.

Want some other ways to level up your skills? Find out how to:


development, feedback, knowledge, teaching

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