“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.” – Dr. Seuss
One thing that really gets me going is when I hear people telling stories about their education.
Granted, we should be very grateful that we live in a country where it’s both our right and we’re expected to get an education.
Unfortunately not everyone recieve the lessons that’d be the most useful for them.
It never ceases to amaze me how often people haven’t received lessons about the questions they need to ask or where to even get information.
I’ve met intelligent people who’ve mastered hard to acquire skills, yet have a hard time dealing with very simple tasks. They’ve sometimes asked questions that, to me, seem asinine.
Now, I understand that people aren’t necessarily stupid, they just haven’t learned how to go about things. They just didn’t get the proper education at school, they didn’t know that they needed to know, and they didn’t have anyone else tell them either.
They simply slipped through every hole in the net.
And this is the unfortunate thing. They’re very capable, but because they have this deficiency in knowledge, people, just like myself, end up thinking that they must be stupid.
As a result we might say “Here, let me do that for you”, which further makes them less self-reliant.
One of the reasons mankind has made it this far is our ability to pass information along. To teach others what we know so they can get a head start and build on it.
We’ve all heard the saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
While it’s true, I’d just like to amend that unless you actually give him a fish he might die before he gets the chance to catch a fish.
What I mean by this is that it’s in our best interest to make sure that we give people both the process and the results.
If you’re reading this I’m assuming that you’ve lived in a house at some point in your life. You’ve enjoyed having walls, a ceiling, a bathroom, etc.
But do you know how it all works? I don’t. How the hell would I be able to build a house? I wouldn’t.
I haven’t had the need to do it, nobody’s told me that it might be a good thing to know, and nobody’s explained how to do it.
I’ve slipped through every hole in the net when it comes to actually building a house. Yet, I enjoy the benefits of others learning how to do it and improving on the techniques of those who came before.
Fortunately for me the information is out there. I’ve learned how to go about finding it, and I can ask the questions that’ll lead me forward should I choose to pursue it.
But what if I’d never learned those lessons? I wouldn’t even be able to figure out which steps to take. It’d feel hopeless.
I’ll give you an example of something I did recently.
I was in search of a set of typefaces/fonts from a video game. Two of them were available for download but the third one was missing.
So, I started by asking myself the most basic question:
Who could I turn to that knew how to get a hold of the third one? Since the previous two were made available anonymously I didn’t go deeper into that.
“Who can point me in the right direction?”
Was there anyone else who knew? Turned out no one knew exactly how it’d been done. Some people gave complicated answers about extracting it from the game code or screenshotting and editing it in a typeface application.
“What is useful, what is not?”
So, I wasn’t about to start messing about with the game files or fiddling with a new program. However, the word “code” gave me a hint. I remember seeing a website using the same fonts.
There must be a file either on the site or a file that it’s pointing to.
After searching through the website’s code I found it. Unfortunately it wasn’t plug & play. The file wasn’t readable. It had to be converted.
I Googled and found a site that could convert it into the .ttf-format.
And so it was done. It took me about 2 hours total.
I was very lucky to have the prior knowledge required to pull those things off, but it wouldn’t have happened unless I asked myself who, how, and why.
The story could’ve ended there. I could’ve put up the files for others to download and let it be.
But then I remembered that nobody had left me the blueprint. Nobody had taught me exactly how to fish. I had to figure it out on my own.
Now, if I just wrote an instruction manual or recorded a video for people on how to do it, I’d teach them how to fish. If I just gave them the files I’d be handing them the fish.
This isn’t about doing either or, it’s about doing both.
It’s a small thing, but if it saves someone 2 hours and they can pass the information along it’ll be worth it.
Some make their living by building houses for others, some by passing the information along.
We can do both.
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