Larry Meadows, President of Oregon-based Clearwater Exteriors and a good friend of mine, shared a simple business theme from his organization that really hit a chord for me. He said that anyone trying to master a task or business principle had to first “learn it,” then “do it.” Learning comes from study and observation over an extended period of time; “doing” puts the learning into practice.
It seems obvious, but with all of the information sources available today, it's easy to assume that, because you watched a video or read an article about some new skill or concept, you're competent with that skill or concept. But you can’t learn how to swim from simply reading a book or watching a video; you need to dive into the pool, feel the water, and understand the risks. "learning" and “Doing” both require repetition and practice until you can perform competently and consistently.
Years later, while mentoring and coaching my leadership team, I realized that by teaching others I was improving my own mastery. And so "Teaching" became the third leg of the stool. I decided that for every improvement the team was working on, they needed an opportunity to teach that improvement to others. The act of teaching would not only benefit the audience but would advance their own improvement.
Teaching can take many forms—giving speeches, holding seminars, writing articles, conducting workshops, etc. Whatever the context, the act of teaching forces you to better understand and articulate the subject matter, and this leads to insights into your own understanding and performance.
The key to this success habit is to make “teaching it “ more than just a reaction to someone’s request to learn; if you are proactive and look for opportunities to teach, your own mastery will improve.