And the next thing that happens? You’re terrified.
I have been terrified, at least briefly, every time I decide to teach a new thing.
When I think about this fear, I can see that it takes various forms. Let’s break it down here. Because your fears are totally normal—and they don’t need to stop you.
I’m grateful to Havi Brooks’ Blogging Therapy series for helping me to think about some of these. And by the way, if your plan for sharing your knowledge includes a blog, you must go read that series.
I’m not perfect at this process I want to teach. I make mistakes. I’m an imposter.
Ahh, yes. The imposter. There are a lot of us floating around. This one especially got me when I was teaching time management. Every time I lost something, every time my undone tasks seemed to be attacking me like the birds in the movie, I would feel like, um…somebody who shouldn’t be teaching time management.
But listen to this. I started my time management workshop with the movie poster from The Birds. I talked about how it feels to be overwhelmed by wild tasks and ideas. Everybody identified. I got a big laugh.
Then I promised people that I would help them tame those wild things and make space in their lives. And they were with me, ready to listen.
I start my indexing workshop by saying this:
So I’m starting a new indexing job. I’ve got my page proofs on my rack. My indexing software is fired up. I have my red pen and my cup of tea. I read the first page of the book—and sometimes, I have no idea what to do next.
It never fails—whenever I say this, the room collapses in amazed laughter. Beginners and experienced indexers alike, everyone has been stuck like this. And everyone is amazed that the expert at the front of the room gets stuck just like them. When I go on to tell them that I’ve figured out how to get through these stuck places, I’ve got the audience in my hand.
You’re only an imposter if you’re supposed to be perfect. And who said that? Nobody wants you to be perfect. Here’s what they do want:
- They want to know you’ve struggled in the same way they’re struggling. That you’ve made the same mistakes they make. That you understand.
- And they want to know that you can help them.
That’s it! Your fears will actually help you to gain their trust!
They’ll think I’m a know-it-all.
I bet that if this is the form your fear takes, you’re a person who has been resented for your abilities. You’ve been in situations where everybody was supposed to know the same thing. Um, like school. And if you were the one who knew it, who raised your hand, they all hated you. It was so not fair.
Well, you’re in for a lovely surprise. Teaching is going to be so healing for you.
You’re up in front of a room with an audience that has come to learn something from you. You’re the author of a book that people are seeking out in the bookstore. You have something to offer. People want it. They are thrilled that you know it. And the more confident you are, the more comfortable they will feel. You’re helping them.
Your knowing it all is a gift.
Okay, more scary things coming up in the next post…
Please join me in the comments! What scares you when you think about teaching?
Here are the other two posts in the What's Scary About Teaching series:
What's Scary About Teaching, Part 2
What's Scary About Teaching, Part 3