Teach what you know

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Austin Kleon. I have done several blog posts on him and his work. My last post on him was on his forthcoming book, Show your Work. This book was released last week and I would recommend that you get a copy. I purchased a Kindle version of the book which I completed earlier today. Today’s blog post is on some of the interesting ideas in the book.

The main premise of the book is to share the ‘behind the scenes’ process of your work with your audience. A number of creative people are afraid that by opening up or revealing their creative processes to their audience would demystify what they do.

Kleon has a great chapter in the book called “Teach what you know”. He opens the chapter with a quote from Annie Dillard.

“The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

The fear that sharing your knowledge or creative ideas with an online or offline audience will diminish you isn’t true. Imagine that you are holding a lit candle. Using this lit candle to light other unlit candles doesn’t in any way take away from or diminish the lit candle. The lit candle shares its flame and keeps on burning. The more you share of yourself; the more value you contribute into the lives of others and they can pass on that flame to others.

Jesus talked a lot about giving and receiving in the Bible. In the Book of Luke, he said that “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38, NKJV)” Most times, this scripture is associated with being generous with your money. I believe it also applies to other things such as creative knowledge and ideas. The investment you make in others will not only benefit them but it will also benefit you as well.

I have learnt more from writing and sharing my blog posts than most of the people who read these blog posts. I do a lot of research and reading to put together every blog post. You spend a few minutes reading my posts while I spend a few hours putting it together. The time and effort put into each blog post is an investment not just in you but also in me. Before I can write a blog post; I have to first understand the content. This means that every week that I share something on the blog is also a week that I am learning something new.

Kleon cites the example of chefs who show and share their processes via their cook books and TV cooking shows. They share their recipes and teach their fans how to cook these recipes. These chefs are like lit candles. The sharing of their creative flames doesn’t diminish them or take anything from them. It actually helps to enhance their reputation and generate income for them.

Are you showing and sharing your work online or offline?

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