The Benefits of Showing and Sharing Work
This past weekend, I revisited, "Show Your Work!" by Austin Kleon and watched the movie "A Quiet Place". I'm combining my thoughts on each as a type of mashup about the need to share our work:
The Book: Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
Probably the best book to pick up if you are getting ready to start sharing your thoughts and processes on learning something you are passionate about is Austin Kleon's, Show Your Work. It's well worth your time and money. For less that $10 and in less than an hour, your mindset can be changed. Instead of feeling like you don't have much to share, you come away convinced that you don't have to be a genius with a list of impressive accomplishments in order to use your voice. You just have to be curious and a little courageous to share what you are learning and to do so on a regular basis. Your willingness to share your experience just might help another soul who is venturing on the same path just a few paces behind you.
A few really worthwhile things that stuck out to me:
1. The Curse of Knowledge: Sometimes when we are learning something new and we Google search a solution, the top solutions are written by the experts and not necessarily from a beginner's point of view. The vocabulary used might be advanced and assumptions made by the expert that the reader has a basic understanding of the knowledge domain; thus, the Curse of Knowledge. Key steps from a learner's point of view may be overlooked or omitted. Here's where it becomes our duty as amateur learners to share our understanding of the solution, using vocabulary that is more familiar to a beginner learner. Austin shares C.S. Lewis's powerful quote on this topic:
2. We are all amateurs: Kleon focuses on the fact that the world is changing so rapidly, that we are all amateurs. Whatever your profession, the processes and tools used to finish your tasks are different today than they were a year ago and will be different again one year from now. No one has "arrived". It's good to remember that we are all learners.
Although, if we literally have just "arrived" and are brand new to a field and feel like we are starting from scratch, this should not stop us from sharing. Kleon recommends sharing something that inspires you. A good first step is finding a group of like-minded people to connect with online and follow them. Pay attention to the content they share, and then notice what they are not sharing. Fill those voids by sharing something that might be missing in the dialogue. After you start creating: Share about your methods and progress using this workflow: > Share your project > Share your portfolio > Share about how others are interacting with your work. This can turn into a daily dispatch if after each day you share one thing about your process. And Kleon quotes Theodore Sturgeon in reminding us to stay humble, knowing that "90% of what you share is crap!"
3. Open Your Cabinet: Don't Be a Hoarder: If you don't have something of your own to share, share some of the wonderful things you have found. There's not as big of a difference between collecting and creating as we might think. Where do we find our inspiration? Is it in books? Movies? People? And when sharing, be sure to extol your heroes and give credit to where credit is due.
The Movie: A Quiet Place
In our country, we value free speech and for some citizens the speech flows freer than for others, but sharing our thoughts, ideas, and ultimately our work, can make us vulnerable. The old adage about a fool remaining quiet and seeming wise instead of opening his mouth and removing all doubt can stop some of us dead in our tracks, preventing us from sharing. We don't want to be considered fools. Like the Abbott family in the movie, A Quiet Place, we are terrified to speak up, dreading the consequences of being heard. If we stay silent, we can be invisible and live in safety. Sometimes the people who speak up seem like the old man in the movie (spoiler alert) who yells at the top of his lungs, knowing the aliens will devour him. He's old and tired and basically doesn't give a rip anymore. He knows death is near anyway so his personal safety and that of others is not his concern. Most of us don't want to be like the old man. We instead want to use discretion and wisdom in what we share and how we share it. We have people and causes we care about that are much more important than our need to share everything. The question then is should we risk sharing at all? If so, what is okay to share? If it is okay to share, how do we go about sharing it?
And then eventually what we find out in life is that not sharing is actually a form of sharing. The Abbott family, intent on not making a sound, eventually make sounds. Quiet sounds in daily living. Loud sounds in moments of pain. All sounds putting them in danger. And the addition of the newborn baby made it clear that we were all born making noise and designed to share. Our voices, no matter what our level of expertise, should be heard and our ideas shared. So, share. It's your right and your duty.
If you are still not sure about whether or not you should choose to share, here's a recent tweet by Austin Kleon that speaks volumes: