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Day 29: Closing the Loop

Today’s Prompt:

You've come a long way in the last 29 days. You've made the first (and most important step) from 0 to 1. 

Think of someone who is still at 0, someone you can help make the infinite leap to 1, and reach out to them. By teaching and guiding this person using the materials available at ww.30dod.com, you'll not only help bring their dream closer to reality but will also be reinforcing your own expertise and growing your community. 

As we wrap up this process, we want you to have a think about how far you've come in the last 30 days. Unlike the vast majority of people who only talk about their idea, you have made a number of concrete steps towards making that idea a reality.

At the end of these 30 Days, each of you will have progressed to a different level. That's fine. The main thing is that you have all progressed. Instead of another month of "Oh, I'll get that business started soon," you've taken at least a few steps in the right direction.

The important thing now is to maintain your momentum. To do so, we want to suggest an aspect of the 30 Days that we talked about way back.

A significant reason most people never get their idea started is because they are working in isolation. You, on the other hand, have been following this process as part of a community. You've had guides, mentors, and peers around you. All are equally important for maintaining forward momentum.

Student becomes teacher

Today's prompt is intended to continue your community interaction, but not in the way you might expect.

It would be easy for us to say, "Keep in touch with your peers, and keep talking and working together." You should absolutely do that – that's a given. Instead, we want you to take a step towards becoming a guide/mentor to someone else.

"Wait a sec," you might be thinking, "I don't have my business up and running or in a place I'm happy with yet. How can I possibly guide someone else?"

To this objection, we ask you again to reflect about how far you've come in the last 30 days. A number of you have gone from a standing start of 0 to the first step, 1. That first step, that first action, is the hardest. Mathematically, the increase from 0 to 1 is infinite. The step from 1 to 2 is just 1. Much less than infinite. You've already taken the first creative and most difficult step just by starting.

So, who can you guide? Easy. People who haven't taken that first step. We all know someone like this – someone who has been talking about an idea for months or years but hasn't actually done anything about it. You are now in a position to help that person get off the starting block and on to doing.

Why teach?

Mentoring and helping someone else sounds like a lot of work. And it is. It will necessarily require a sacrifice of your time.

If pure altruism isn't enough to convince you this is valuable (and that's perfectly fine – your time is precious!), there are additional reasons why teaching will also help out your business. For most of us, teaching will be a blend of altruism and self-interest – that's totally natural and understandable.

Teaching is, quite simply, the best way to learn.

Huh?

Teaching requires you to know a subject or skill explicitly. You can't just be good in that particular area – you also need to know why you are good.

This is extremely helpful, because it forces you to work out what the reasons are for your own particular ability and, equally, where the gaps in your knowledge are. Additionally, this allows you to focus on improving yourself.

You can teach anyone anything as long as you know slightly more about the subject.

I (Kyle) "taught" my girlfriend, Shenshen, to ski despite our skiing session being the second time I had ever skied (with a 3–4-year gap in between my first and second sessions!). Because I knew slighty (slightly!) more about how not to fall over, I was able to teach her. In fact, just by taking the role of the teacher, I was forced be a better skier! The teacher can't fall over!

I (Casey) "taught" my husband, Mike, how to cook béarnaise sauce, even though I am certainly not a chef! But I have watched Jacques Pépin and Julia Child instructional videos about how to create the "perfect" béarnaise sauce. Simply by watching these videos a few times and then practicing myself, I know more than Mike about creating a French Mother Sauce and can teach him! He's still better at poaching eggs than me, so we make a good brunch team.

You certainly don't need qualifications, a PhD, or years of teacher training to teach someone something you know and they don't. You need marginally more knowledge/ability, empathy, and a little patience.

Richard Feynman, genius nuclear physicist, an early father of nano-technology, Nobel Laureate, teacher extraordinaire, and all-round amazing guy used this teaching as a technique to reach extremely high levels of ability in a wide range of subjects. His background was in physics, but he quickly "studied up" to PhD levels of knowledge in other branches of science (and other disciplines) by forcing himself to teach each new piece of knowledge he acquired.

Here is a diagram of his slightly more involved model of learning/teaching:

 

 

Feynman would come across a problem/concept and use books and talking with experts to come up with a ELI5 ("explain it like I'm five") description of that concept. He'd then refine the description using analogies (from the disciplines he already knew) and simplification until he was able to teach anyone of decent intelligence about the concept.

He wouldn't take years to go through this process of learning to teaching – he'd take minutes. By focusing on getting from learner to teacher in the shortest possible time, Feynman accelerated his own mastery of the concept.

Scott H. Young recently used the Feynman technique to compress and complete the four-year MIT Computer Science degree into a year of study. You can see Scott talking about this feat in this video.

Here are Scott H. Young's steps[1] of how to practically use the Feynman technique:

  1. Pick an idea or topic you want to understand. This could be a formula, concept, method, or theory. Write it at the top of a piece of paper.
  2. Begin writing down the idea, as if you were about to teach it to someone who had never heard it before. Pretend you're writing lecture notes for an upcoming presentation about the topic to beginners.
  3. Whenever you get stuck explaining the idea, go back to the textbook or teacher to learn it. This technique can quickly pinpoint the exact ideas you're missing from a complete understanding.
  4. Wherever you make wordy or complicated explanations, aim to either simplify the language used or create an analogy to help describe it.

You can supercharge this process by having an actual person to explain the concepts you've been learning about to. Lucky you! This will speed up the process of moving from learner to teacher.

All of this allows you to start mastering the topics we've been discussing. What better way to get a handle on small business tax than having to explain it to someone who needs your help? You'll find yourself going out of your way to help them come up with solutions – all the time strengthening your own knowledge of the subject.

Personally, I (Kyle) abhor topics like tax. It doesn't interest me, and I'd rather someone else worried about it. Anybody else. But having to write out an article to help others navigate the dangerous waters of tax forced me to learn more and to clarify my thinking. For whatever areas you personally dislike, you'll find the same happening as soon as you need to help someone else.

Other benefits of building a community

We believe teaching in order to learn is the best reason for starting to build a community around yourself. Self-improvement is highly important.

There are other reasons for building a community. The people you'll be teaching and mentoring will become a community of collaborators, partners, friendly critics, supporters, super-fans and even your first customers.

You will be "networking" without having to stand around awkwardly, wine glass in hand, at a formal networking event. Instead, you'll be building a personal network around yourself on your own terms – people you like and want to collaborate with.

More than that, you'll be at the center of this community as you started it up yourself. That's a powerful position, which allows you to connect people who wouldn't normally meet so they can mutually help one another and the community as a whole.

How to build your community via teaching

Hopefully, all of the above sounds very positive, and you are convinced of i) your ability to help others and ii) the benefits of doing so.

Let's look at the nitty gritty.

First, think of someone you could assist with getting their idea off the ground – ideally, someone who hasn't really started yet – someone at step 0. You probably know someone who has been stuck at step 0 for years. This person is a prime candidate.

Another candidate would be someone you've been telling about the last 30 days and who thought what you are doing is exciting. Chances are, they'd like to do something similar. They probably already have an idea (most everyone does!) – all you need to do is ask and see if they'd like some help getting from 0 to 1.

Go ahead and ask this person if they would like to have you available as a resource to chat and work through the first steps of their business.

Definitely point your friend in the direction of 30dod.com as a starting point. As you've been working on these areas already, it makes sense to get started here with them. Remember, as long as you know a little more than them, you can support them.

Ideally, you can go a bit further and think of a handful of people who can participate – if not, then ask your first friend if they know anyone who might also benefit from the process. If you can get a small group together, then it'll be much easier to keep momentum going and make sure the participants reach their goals.

As a nice side benefit, it's actually easier for you to manage and maintain the sessions, because people can discuss amongst themselves. The group itself becomes the "teacher" rather than the whole role falling on your shoulders.

[1] http://calnewport.com/blog/2015/11/25/the-feynman-notebook-method/. 28 January 2017.

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