Talent #2: Teaching

First, Break All the Rules says that great managers define talents as “recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be put to productive use.”

It delights me to teach others how systems operate, by making effective presentations. This is why, as a child, I enjoyed building and showing off models made from plastic kits and Lego bricks. I preferred drawing diagrams and drafting blueprints over other kinds of art. I was sufficiently good at writing to dream of becoming a great novelist, but writing non-fiction has been my recurring pattern. I especially enjoyed reading science fiction, but when attempting to write it, I frequently got hung up on how things worked: How could faster-than-light travel or artificial gravity be reconciled with the known laws of physics? I was easily distracted from the fact that science fiction is about suspending, voluntarily, what we know makes sense and, as in other literature, exploring the social and interpersonal implications for well-developed characters.

Teaching is, for me, a way to spread the joy I feel when a model crystallizes. Teaching and communicating from the stage are in my DNA. My most impassioned presentations are the ones that serve to teach. I wrote my book to spread understanding of how computers work. Blogging is a way for me simultaneously to crystallize models through the process of writing, and to communicate them to others.

I used to assume that others share the deep satisfaction I derive from achieving an understanding of how things work. When my audience didn’t experience the joy of the crystallized model, I took it as a personal failure to communicate. Then I realized that people often are indifferent to understanding the operation of a system. They may dislike analysis and dissection of systems familiar to them, especially when the flaws in systems they cherish are made obvious.

Tags: Business, Philosophy, Reading

Updated at: 10 July 2007 12:07 AM