those that do, can’t teach (themselves)

In deep thoughts, learning, motivation by Jay Clouse

You’ve probably heard the (absolutely wrong, insulting, offensive!) adage, “Those that can’t do, teach.”

As the product of teachers, the brother to teachers, cousin to teachers, and finding myself “teaching” a lot myself now with Lynda/Linkedin Learning and my work, I generally disagree with this.

But something I see frequently is a strange phenomenon with people who do and help others to do: we often have a hard time following the same process for ourselves.

This isn’t a “practice what you preach” or “walk the talk” problem so much as a psychological block. Let me explain what I mean…

I’ve spoken with brand strategists struggling to define their own brand. They’ve helped other brands and have amazing case studies — but struggle when it comes to themselves.

I’ve spoken with copywriters who are absolute studs at their craft, but agonize over writing copy for their own website.

I’ve failed to hold myself accountable and get things done — the whole premise of my business! — while helping dozens of others do it themselves.

Sometimes the solution is as simple as separating yourself from the problem. “If your client had this same problem, what would you recommend they do?” More often than not, there is a pretty clear and obvious answer.

I think it comes from being too close to something. And often, it seems that admitting this block to someone else and verbally working through the same process we recommend to others will bust through it.


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