In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that, I learn from him. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In this age of social networking the concept of sharing has become extremely commonplace, but I’m not sure we have improved the value we create through sharing as opposed to increasing the noise through which we have to wade to learn something new and valuable.
Each of us has our own strengths, areas of unique knowledge, and body of knowledge that the world can learn from. Our experiences, while uniquely personal, bring us a perspective that nobody else in the world has or could articulate the learnings of. Like a kaleidoscope we each see the same world through slightly different lenses that have been shaped and coloured by our own unique experiences.
With new mediums like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (and a host of other emerging platforms for social networking) people have been empowered to share their experiences broadly, creating the possibility for the creation of trillions of insightful and enlightening leanings to be shared across humanity and further accelerating our human knowledge growth.
Unfortunately these mediums have had the side effect of sharing diarrhea, the practice of blindly sharing (or oversharing) every thought or sight we have, but without the substance or meaning that those thoughts, sights, sounds, or experiences have on us. The great artists of history didn’t just paint pictures, they shared meaning and interpretation. The great musicians didn’t play notes, they imparted meaning and emotion in their work.
Perhaps it’s the nature of the 140 character “share” that has driven our sharing behaviour, but I believe that while sharing knowledge and experience is one of the most valuable things we can do for the world, as a whole we are falling short of our duties.
There is an old saying – “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”. I don’t subscribe to this view, however. I believe that the second part of that saying should be changed to “Those who lead, teach”.
As a leader, whether in our official title, or simply as a leader within a team, sharing knowledge and wisdom is the most important value you can create. Your experiences, views, and knowledge have been uniquely created through a life of trial and error, experiences, successes, failures, and self-reflection. That said, while remaining uniquely personal, your knowledge and experience can be invaluable learnings to the people around you.
We need to be diligent about sharing knowledge (in a humble and unassuming way) with those around us, but we need to be equally diligent in ensuring that we aren’t just sharing the paint or the notes, but also the meaning and knowledge that you gained through the experience.
The next time you are sharing something, whether it be through traditional mediums (speech, conversation, meetings etc) or through one of the new social media outlets take an extra couple of minutes to review what you are sharing to make sure that you’ve included the meaning, emotions, and learnings that you have taken from the experience and not just the surface level details.
Words of wisdom are incredibly powerful when shared.
Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.