A few months ago, I started a series of workshops. One is about doing online business (which I call the “mentorship”) and the other one is about blogging. Both are pretty demanding in terms of focus, energy and time. Mentorship is 2 days in a row and blogging is split in 3 days, usually 3 Fridays in a row.
I really enjoyed doing these workshops. Interacting, teaching and always being challenged are so different than blogging. We will never replace human interaction, I suppose, regardless of how much social media we will create. And as much as I value blogging as a personal development channel, I’ll always be amazed by the results you get from direct interaction with another human being.
But what amazes me the most, is how much I learned during this process. Didn’t even realize I’m actually learning from it, because I was totally focused and immersed, but after the initial thrill dried out, I noticed a different approach. The concern of “am I going to deliver today?” was slowly replaced by “what would I learn today?”.
The biggest secret of teaching is that you constantly learn from it. You’re constantly being challenged even if your main teaching themes are the same. The mere act of getting out and share your experience will always get you out of your comfort zone. I teach roughly the same topics (with some improvements from one series to another) but every time I do it it’s different. Every interaction is unique.
Now, let’s see what are the 5 things that I got substantially improved by teaching others:
1. I Rebuilt My Interpersonal Skills
Every person is unique. And every time I interacted with another person during my workshops, something magic happened. Couldn’t describe it and I won’t even try. Suffice to say that I drastically improved my interpersonal skills.
Before the workshop a normal interaction would usually last as long as the physical interaction: after we exchanged some information, the other person was out of my radar. But after I started to teach, I created a sort of a loop.
Each time I interacted with someone I projected his or her image into a very near future. “I understand how you are now, but here’s how you’re going to be in a very short time if we’re going to learn this or that.” And that made a huge quantum leap in our relationship. We literally grew together: he, as a performer of new tasks, and me as a witness.
And witnessing other people growing has this strange effect of triggering growth in yourself too.
2. I Remodeled My Organizing Skills
Preparing a workshop is totally different than preparing a blog post. To be honest, is more complicated than preparing a business meeting too, and I know that because IÂ had literally hundreds of business meetings in my 10 years as an entrepreneur.
It’s not that you have to predict everything all the time: did I get enough paper or pencils? Do I have everything I need at the workshop location? The desks are good? How are the chairs? Do we have electricity? (Yeah, I can freak out at times 😉 ).
It’s more about creating a specific context in which you can express yourself in a more powerful way. Once you get over the little details that you’ll roll on autopilot, you will start to feel the whole structure of your performance from another level. You will start to identify chunks of high interaction, favorable contexts and instant changes and opportunities. You will learn how to get the most of your environment with minimum effort.
And that’s what organizing is for me, anyway.
3. I Validated My Personal Experience
Yes, I did business for 10 years. Yes, I still do business today. But let me tell you something: we will always need validation for our actions. It’s part of how we’re functioning as human beings.
And by validation I mean putting your expertise to be tested by others. Let other people stress you with questions, let them put you in uncomfortable situations and see how – and if – you can get out in good shape.
Getting out and teaching what I’ve learned in 10 years of entrepreneurship had a very important (yet almost invisible for any other person than me) effect: actually proved if my personal experience was good or not. Based on my evaluation after the mentorship workshops I made some informal recommendations to some investors and, to my great satisfaction, some of the young entrepreneurs I recommended got an initial seed funding.
Which, to be honest, I consider to be a great thing. 😉
4. I Enforced My Personal Brand
Real brands are built in real world. If all you do is stay at your computer and write, you may become a famous blogger. And that’s ok if all you want is to be a famous blogger. But be prepared for some big surprises when you go out in the real world.
Every time I started a new workshop I knew I will put to a difficult test not only my experience, my knowledge and interpersonal skills, but also my personal brand. Each attendant was in fact an amplifier for my personal image.
Any screw up is highly penalized when people are expecting to learn something from you. What could be perceived as a mild disappointment in a normal relationship, would become a huge turn off if you’re teaching the other person. If you’re trying to make the other person better, you can’t be less than great.
And striving to be the best version of yourself in front of an eager audience is the best thing that could happen to your personal brand. Honestly.
5. Refined My Networking Skills
Before starting these workshops I had quite a comfortable position in the online publishing industry in Romania. I still know a few key people and try to keep close with my old partners. But things are changing incredibly fast in this industry.
After just a few months of workshops I feel like my network of people has exploded. I am actually forced to find ways to keep track of what I’m starting and with whom. The term “business opportunity” become more common than “good morning”.
The pressure of keeping my connections alive, after spending a lot of valuable time together, pushed me to a new level. It’s not the fact that I know more people than I knew when I owned my own business. It’s the actual business quota for each person I know. It’s like every new encounter is wrapped into a veil of business proposals. I can’t follow all of them, which I think it’s a sign of normality, but I do enjoy this new field of opportunities.
Now, I’m curious: did you have similar experiences? How much are you getting when you’re teaching somebody else? If you’re a coach, for instance, how much do you feel youÂ “give” and how much do you “receive”? Would love to hear it in the comments.