Have you ever heard the phrase, “you teach best what you most need to learn”? I’ve been thinking about this concept recently and I came to a realization about why it’s true.
In 2010, while living in Hawaii, I taught photography to a local woman. Her original goal, she told me, was to learn to shoot in-the-moment photographs like I do but, over time, she preferred to spend our lessons exploring Lightroom rather than honing her shooting skills. That worked well for both of us because it turned out that I struggled to teach her how to capture moments.
You see, photographing moments comes naturally to me. It’s practically inherent, the skillset I use listening, watching, and anticipating a peak moment. I do it in my everyday life, whether or not I have a camera in hand, because I prefer to sit on the sidelines and watch action rather than dropping into the middle of it.
Because my shooting habits are so ingrained, I discovered that I was bad at teaching them. I haven’t gone through the in-depth thought processes and trial and error required to break them down into easy components and explain them effectively. Teaching Lightroom, however, came easily because it was something I had to learn first.
It is for that same reason I feel equipped to write about and teach personal development, from how to change your viewpoints to how to love yourself more. Those were hard-won lessons for me.
I didn’t pop out of the womb confident, open-minded, and zenful. Or maybe I did and I lost those facets of myself along the way. Regardless, these personal-growth learnings were ones I’ve had to work at and cultivate over time. I still work at them.
There’s something so powerful in going through the process of learning something, isn’t there? When you’ve always known it, how can you teach it? It’s just there. You know it unequivocally. Teaching it then becomes an exercise in spouting platitudes, at least from my experience.
“How do you photograph a moment?,” you might ask.
“Well,” I’d reply,”you watch people. You listen to them. You track their actions. You click the shutter at the peak of the action.”
It seems so easy when put that way, doesn’t it? And yet so many people struggle to do it. Just like we struggle with believing in ourselves and putting in the work to bring about what we most desire in life.
And so I write about personal development—because I’ve put in the work and learned these lessons for myself. Now I can share them with you. I’m not an expert or a “professional”; I’m a fellow journeyer.
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