At the last conference I attended, Scott Hanselman hosted a session called – Why So Mean? (entire Kyte video here). Like many discussions before it, this session was focused on the question most alpha geeks crave to answer, “It is our duty to teach and pull the rest of the community forward! How do we get other developers to listen, learn, and most important care?”
First and foremost, let’s address the question, “How do we get others to learn?” I find this question so egotistical and self serving it pains me. A guru that sits atop of the mountain does not climb off of it to go door-to-door knocking looking for students. Why would he? Climbing the mountain is the first sign that the student is willing to put forth the effort to learn.
Additionally, what about allowing survival of the fittest to run its’ course? If some developers walk around with their eyes and ears closed it will not be long before people, companies, and universities will have to “ratchet-up” in order to survive against better and faster competitors.
As for “it’s our duty” portion I say – bullocks! If you sincerely feel a sense of duty, then super cool. Be a blogger, be a author, be a mentor; however, it is not your duty. In order to say “yes” to something you have to say “no” to something else. If you choose to teach your mantra just know that you are taking away your time and attention to something else whether it be your family, work, or even the practices that allowed you to be good enough to teach your wisdom. You can be a hermit guru if you wish and the world will keep spinning.
I recently bumped into this story and found it quite appropriate:
In ancient Greece there once lived a wise philosopher, he was greatly admired by his peers and extremely smart for his time, indeed he was considered a genius. There was a young man who looked up to this philosopher with great admiration, he wanted to know everything he knew, and become great like he was.
The young man approached the philosopher one day seeking to become an understudy. The philosopher informed the young man that he would not teach him – he was not a teacher but a philosopher. The young man persisted, he asked the philosopher every morning for a lesson, anything would do. This went on for several months. Finally, one day the philosopher agreed and informed the young man that his first lesson would be taught at the beach the following morning, he was to meet him there at dawn sharp.
The young man didn’t sleep much that night, he was anticipating the great lesson he would learn about the ocean, or maybe the sand, or maybe some deep insight to the mating ritual of crabs; it didn’t matter, he was finely going to learn something. He showed up at the beach at dawn sharp as agreed, but the philosopher was no where to be seen. He scanned the beach up and down several times, he gazed as far as he could down the road to town hoping his teacher was simply late, nothing.
A little discouraged he sat down and gazed out into the ocean, and then he saw him, or his head rather, about seven paces out into the water, submerged all the way up to his chin. The young man was surprised but excited, he leaped up and ran out to his new teacher as fast as he could. When he got within arms length of the philosopher, the philosopher grabbed him by the arm and twisted him under the water, the young man struggled, but the philosopher was fast and agile, he had a firm grip. The young man was unprepared to be forced under water so quickly, he only had half a lung full of air. 10 seconds passed, then 20 then 30, but he could not free himself from the old man.
Panic started to set in, he realized that he was about to die, his vision started to tunnel, he desperately needed some air. Just before he was about to give up and take in a lung full of sea water the philosopher let him free. The young man, quite frightened, swam as fast as he could to shore. He yelled out to the philosopher and asked, “What was that for, are you crazy?” to which the old man replied “That was your lesson. When you want knowledge as much as you just wanted air, you’ll find it” – Found on SerenityCheck
Bloggers, authors, forum contributors, speakers, and team leaders – I salute you. You continually open the door of wisdom to many, but it is the student’s choice alone whether or not to walk through.