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One invisible but important trend in the world today is that everyone is becoming a teacher. Managers teach their reports. Marketers educate their customers about their solutions. Analysts teach their clients how to interpret data.
It is well understood that everyone should become a lifelong learner. But it is equally important to understand that many of us have to become lifelong teachers.
No matter where you are in life, people around you could benefit from your knowledge - employees, colleagues, followers and customers, or even your children.
Every teacher moves through four stages or identities over time:
When you first start looking into a subject, you probably know very little about it. At this point, you feel you don't have much to offer. Yet you do.
Your beginner's mind is free from assumptions and unquestioned traditions. Here, your credibility comes from your lack of experience. Your contribution comes from your willingness to report on everything you learn and discover. You can allow others to look through that lens and discover alongside you.
Acquiring enough knowledge and experience will lead your time as a reporter to end. You will start to develop your own taste and form your own opinions about your subject.
At this point, your credibility change from impartiality to partiality. You start to recommend what you think are the best ways based on your experience. If you've struggled through something, what did you learn from that experience that others might find useful to their own struggles?
Expertise takes up a lot of time and energy to maintain. You have to work hard to stay at the leading edge of your field, updating your knowledge and staying on track with the latest developments. It is sustainable for a while, but if you want to ease up at some point, it's time to become a leader.
Instead of staying at the leading edge of your field, shift your emphasis to building teams to accumulate such knowledge. Leadership as a teacher means turning your attention to forms of knowledge needed to lead others, like communication, how to inspire greatness, how to coach people.
You often don't choose to become a mentor, but other people decide for you. They make you their mentor.
Mentorship is limited to people you know and can influence directly. However, if you want to expand your reach and impact without working harder, you can take on a teacher's identity as a role model.
Modelling is a medium of instruction that is more scalable. People will look to you to understand what it means to live a fulfilling, inspired life. People will put you on a pedestal and treat your words like sacred doctrine. People will follow what you do more than what you say. Your network will be extensive and influential.
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