Want to Learn Something? Then Teach It.

11 04 2010

I have found that the best way to learn something – anything – is to get in way over your head.  Saying ‘yes’ upfront and sorting out the details later can definitely make things complicated, but there are countless stories of successful actors and others who got their break by ‘yes’-ing all questions asked by the casting director (‘Of course I can duel an opponent while riding a horse with one hand behind my back!’) and hauling ass later to make good on their skills.

When I called up the resort in the DR a few months ago, management was most excited about bringing in a yoga teacher and aerobics instructor, and they asked me if I could do it.  I answered ‘Yes!’ without hesitation.  While I had taken many of these classes, I had never taught yoga or aerobics before.  So I spent the weeks leading up to the trip doing research, sitting in on different classes to see what I liked and leading free classes in my community to gain experience.  If I hadn’t “overcommitted” myself to something new, I never would have had the fire burning under me to push me to the next level and build my teaching experience.

Similarly, when I applied to be a tour director for the summer trip to Costa Rica, I listed my Spanish language level as fluent.  I definitely was fluent in Spanish at one point in time, but it had been a long while since I had conversed in the language.  When I found out that the company was interested in me primarily because of my Spanish fluency (they typically don’t hire tour directors from outside the company), I dragged out my Spanish language textbooks, watched a few movies in Spanish and spent my first three weeks in the DR practicing my language skills like crazy to make good on the fluency promise in my application.  I aced the Spanish-language interview from the DR, whereas four weeks prior I had still been hung up on ‘Como estas?’.  (Alright, maybe I wasn’t quite that bad!)

Granted, this philosophy can lead you into sticky situations, but the resulting experiences almost always pan out for the good.  And as long as no one gets hurt and you continue to challenge yourself and gain from the experience, just remember that it’s easier to apologize than it is to get permission (-Grace Hopper).

Dive right in!

posted by amybetho




2 responses

11 04 2010
Tony Ruiz

It’s awesome when you teach something you learn the step-by-step process of doing something. You start to grasp how to DO and teach it.

12 04 2010

Definitely, all while forcing you to master the points that you might otherwise skip over. I’m very much on the same page as Amy here regarding teaching being a great way to quickly ramp up on a skill.

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