Monday, January 10, 2011

The Survey: Discovering Your Deep Knowledge

This post is part of a series on the Digging for Treasure process. Other posts in the series are listed at the end of this one.

Wondering

You know you want to teach or write. You have riches to share. But you’re not sure what your subject is. Before you can dig for treasure, you need to do a survey.

Maybe you’re a really good teacher. You’ve taught and written about several different subjects successfully. You love the process and want to do more of it. The field of possibilities is wide open. This is where I was when I came up with Digging for Treasure.

Maybe you’re a scanner. If I said, “You have a treasure inside you to share,” you would answer (possibly with panic), “which one???” You know enough about raising goats, weaving, vegan nutrition, blogging, and international development consulting to teach a college course in each one. How on earth should you choose? (Oh yeah, this describes me too.) (Well, not those exact subjects.) (I could see myself liking goats, but…)

Maybe you wish you could share a philosophy or an attitude towards life that has helped you. Maybe you’ve been inspired by a wonderful teacher and wish you could spread the message. But you don’t know exactly how to do it.

A survey into subjects you could teach is by nature going to be very individual and personal. You’ll need to wander around in your lives and interests, and your next subject might appear through serendipity. But I’m going to give you some clues to help you find it.

If You’re a Scanner

…and you already have a list of possible topics, the answer is easy. Eventually you can teach them all, if you want to. It’s really important for scanners to know that they can embrace everything they love! You don’t have to choose just one in the long run.

But for now, you just need to pick one and get going! Learning to dig up your treasure and get it ready to share is a skill you can learn. Once you’ve done it consciously with one subject, teaching or writing about all the others will be easier. So the important thing now is to start on something.

But how should you choose? Here are some ways:
  • Pick the one you have the deepest knowledge about. This will make it easiest to prepare.
  • Pick the one you feel most passionate about. Your enthusiasm will drive you along!
  • Pick the one for which you have an audience. If you want to sell your expertise, it helps to have a market.
  • Or close your eyes and pick one at random! If you love and know them all, any one will be successful. Remember, you can always share the others later.

If You Want to Share an Attitude, Philosophy, or Teaching

…you will need to root your teaching in real life. Learners need stories and concrete details to engage with and to make them think. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • What experiences led you to this new attitude?
  • How did learning the philosophy change you? What were things like for you before and after you learned it?
  • Do you have stories of other people whose lives have been changed in the same way?
  • If you were inspired by a teacher, do you remember exactly how they inspired you? What did they say? How did you relate it to your life? Again, how did things change for you?
The answers to these questions will give you some places to start digging for your unique treasure.  

Wandering

If you just know there’s something in you that needs to be shared, you will need to do some wandering.

I believe that everyone has deep knowledge of something. Even if you don’t think you’re highly competent in a particular skill, I bet you have been through life experiences (wonderful or awful) that other people could learn from. You need to explore your life and experiences to find your unexpected sources of knowledge and skill.

Below, in a mindmap, you’ll find some directions for your wandering.

I recommend that you try mindmapping for this exploration process. I’ll be writing more posts about mindmapping, which I use constantly. But it’s simple enough to jump right in. Just put your question in the middle and use each of the clues I give as a branch. As you have thoughts, extend them from the relevant branch. Working from the inside out mirrors the way our brains make connections and thus makes it easier to think. It doesn’t need to be beautiful or artistic. And there are no rules!



And One More Wonderful Exercise

This is the one that found me my Digging for Treasure program. I found it in Finding Your Perfect Work by Paul and Sarah Edwards (highly recommended if you’re wanting to start your own business).

I did this one in a mindmap too.

In the middle, put People Like Me. Then start adding branches. Who is like you? Homeschooling parents? Short men? People with lots of siblings? Accountants close to retirement? Ex-Catholics? Intermediate guitarists? Photoshop users?

You’re going to think about what you might have to offer each of those groups, with whom you share characteristics or experiences.

When I did this exercise, I found about thirty groups of “people like me.” Just doing it was fascinating, a whole different lense on my life and experiences.

One of those groups was “people who give workshops.” And I realized that I had given successful workshops in a lot of different fields. Maybe I had something to offer people who want to teach!

I'd love to hear from you. Did you try doing the survey? Which clue helped you most? Did you try mindmapping? What did it feel like?

The Digging for Treasure series so far:

Digging for Treasure: My First Dig
Digging for Treasure: At School 
Knowing Without Knowing

30 comments:

  1. Ooh ooh, I just thought of two more questions to ask yourself if you're wandering. They really should go on the mindmap!

    What are people always asking you questions about? What do they always want you to help them with?

    What have you been praised for? Even abstract qualities like compassion can lead to a subject.

    Pardon me. This is the nature of this process. Once you tune in to the subject you want to teach, you keep getting new insights out of the blue!

    ReplyDelete


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