Monday, January 12, 2009
How Teaching Can Make You Unforgettable
Recently, I posed this question on Twitter: "What was the name of your favorite teacher and what did he/she teach?"
I immediately got nearly a dozen responses, and the enthusiasm was palpable. English, history, economics, drums and literature teachers were lauded by fellow Twitterers who noted how the favored teacher was "encouraging," "brilliant," had "patience" or a sense of humor.
What I also found interesting was that no one forgot the name of that great teacher, which is kind of amazing when you think how many people claim they are "bad with names" even if they've met someone in business many times.
So, this got me to thinking about the power of teaching, and how we can use that in our careers.
While using LinkedIn and Facebook and other online networking tools can be helpful, and attending business and industry functions can be beneficial to your career, don't forget that teaching may have one of the greatest positive impacts on your success.
Teaching, I believe, can take many different forms in the workplace. You can teach the new employee how to use the phone system, you can teach an older employee how to streamline a process, you can teach your boss how to access material on the Internet or you can teach a co-worker how to handle a difficult colleague.
The point is that you're doing what great teachers do: Giving of your time and efforts with the purpose of passing on the gift of knowledge so that the student's life will be enhanced, better and richer for having met you.
Don't ever believe that you're not patient enough, or smart enough or giving enough to be a teacher in the workplace. Even the smallest effort to pass on your knowledge can have a huge impact on someone else, and that's very valuable in a workplace culture that is often so fast-paced and stressful that we forget someone's name the minute we delete their e-mail.
Think back to your favorite teacher. What did he or she offer you that made you always remember him or her? How did they help you expand your mind and absorb the knowledge they offered you?
Now, consider what you have to offer someone else in the workplace. How can you use that knowledge to make yourself memorable, to form a connection that will last? Because let's face it: Solid connections in the workplace not only benefit you now but in the future. Who do you think will help you when you're looking for a new job or an important business contact -- the person you helped teach, or the person you brushed off because you were too busy to help show the ropes?
"Teaching," Albert Einstein said, "should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.”
What are some ways you can "teach" in the workplace?