A Simple Secret to Success: Teach What You Know

There are people out there who want to sell you things they have no right trying to sell. Ironically, the most qualified experts are often the quietest voices. So how do we fix this?


I have a simple suggestion: Teach what you know. Here’s why it works:

  • If we all taught what we knew, we would waste a lot less time trying to impress other people, pretending to be smarter than we really are.
  • If we all taught what we knew and didn’t hoard our knowledge, we would all be smarter.
  • If we all taught what we knew, those around us would value what we offer more.

This is harder than it sounds, though, because we all suffer from the curse of knowledge. We are too close to the things that we know to even recognize their value. So we need a little perspective.

I love what Derek Sivers says about this: “What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” If you know more than most people about something, then you are an expert to someone. And that means you have a responsibility to share with them what you know.

“What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.”

Derek Sivers

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So let’s say you have some gem of an idea that you may not even realize you have. How do you get started teaching what you know? Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Write a book. I’m a big fan of this, obviously, as I’ve written four books already in the past three years. I think there’s no better way to figure out what you think about something than to write a book. And just between you and me, I like writing books because it forces me to learn things better than I really know them. So even if you’re not an expert, if you have an appetite to learn, writing a book is not a bad idea. The best place to begin is with a writing habit of 500 words per day.
  2. Speak at an event. There’s a reason why the Greeks used to gather in public squares to debate philosophy and why politicians travel from city to city to win over voters. The best way to spread an idea is still via word of mouth. If you have something to teach or share, getting in front of an audience and telling them about is a great way to do this. I love going to conferences and events to share my ideas and stories. And honestly, getting booked to speak isn’t as hard as you think.
  3. Teach a course. It could at your church or place of worship, the local community college, or even online. I’ve made a good living sharing unexceptional things with an audience of people who find them interesting — all through online courses. It’s humbling, but also incredibly energizing. Teaching courses like Tribe Writers has got to be some of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done.

You don’t need more information. You need to stop stalling and share what you know. If it resonates with someone, ask them to share it. Before you know it, you’ll be reaching people who you never knew needed your message.

Some people say success follows passion. But I don’t think that’s true. Success follows value. And teaching what you know just might be the best way to create value.

“Success doesn’t follow passion. It follows value.”

Jeff Goins

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If you don’t know where to start, here are three practical suggestions:

  • If you want to write a book, you need to start writing daily. Join the My 500 Words daily writing prompt. You’ll get a short email prompt every day for 31 days plus free access to an online community of other writers who can encourage you. It’s one of my favorite communities online.
  • If you want to speak, sign up for the free webinar I’ll be hosting with Grant Baldwin later this week about getting booked and paid to speak. He is the expert on this and has been doing it for a decade. I’m a firm believer that writers need to speak, and Grant will teach you how to do it right.
  • If you want to build and sell an online course, check out Course Builder’s Lab. It’s the best education I’ve ever seen on how to do this the right way. The course opens once or twice a year. In the meantime, read Teach and Grow Rich by my friend Danny Iny.

Whatever you do, don’t just sit there. Teach what you know.

How can you start doing this today? Share in the comments. I’ll be randomly picking people who take action and giving away special prizes, like books and stuff.