Teach AND Do

Nassim Taleb has a quote in Skin in the Game about our modern curse of having lots of people who can intelligently make a point, but fewer and fewer who can do something valuable.

The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing.

It’d be a mistake to read that as a purely cynical condemnation of the world. We’re still here and there’s work to be done after all. But, realize if we want to make a difference by understanding and explaining things, we have to go out there and get our hands dirty too.

John Boyd used to ask his Air Force cadets, “Do you want to be someone or do something?” Go ahead and get the title, the certification, and whatever letters you need after your name – but don’t stop there. Achieving “someone” status begs you to get out there and “do something” with your knowledge.

Modernity may come with a curse. Never before have we all been so surrounded with advice, tips, and hot takes. The opportunity it creates comes when we realize it’s not about just teaching OR doing, but teaching AND doing. When we do both, we can have a serious impact on the people we seek to serve.

Let’s call it the opportunity of modernity. Teaching and doing together is scarce. It can be the value our jobs get to unlock if we are willing to look for it.

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