Ending of the year is often good time to do some summary of your current achievements and future goals. My review of 2020 inspired me to make something unusual — to create non-technical blog post about sharing knowledge. No matter how naive it sounds, a decision to start sharing my knowledge (i.e. writing blog posts, giving talks on various conferences/webinars, sharing interesting news over Twitter or LinkedIn) was the best decision I made in my 10-year IT career. In the next lines of this article I’ll try to explain it and in the end I hope you’ll be convinced enough to pay more attention to sharing your knowledge while planning your goals for 2021.
Share your knowledge to beat procrastination
I believe that everyone has at least several brilliant ideas in a lifetime. However, we often tend to sabotage ourselves by saying “nah, probably nobody would be interested” or by delaying the implementation of your idea to some point in future (what in other words means “probably never”). And while many of us are used to lie ourselves, it’s usually harder to disappoint others. For example, when one of my first presentation abstract was accepted on one conference I had a reasonable plan of preparing whole presentation. All procrastinators know this pattern “there’s so much time…I’ll do it later”. Yeah… and the then “later” becomes another “later”. But if you have a deadline and you don’t want to disappoint other people you’ll prepare this presentation even few evenings before. A goal to share your knowledge (e.g. sending an abstract of your awesome talk) can make things happen. Or even more! In my case the stressful moment of preparing the presentation few nights before the conference was a trigger to learn working more productively (in my case Pomodoro technique, Get Things Done method and a practice of doing one single thing in a moment, really revolutionised my productiveness). More effective way of work impacted other areas of my life. Like a butterfly effect, maybe all those changes in my life would never happen if not my initial decision to… give a talk (or more general to share my knowledge).
Share your knowledge to learn more
What is surprising to me is that many people still find sharing knowledge as revealing your secrets, saying “if I share my hacks to do something better, I’ll no longer be unique on the market/in a team”. Usually most of the “hacks” are learnt because someone else shared it to you, so treating them as “yours” is not fair. Furthermore, challenging your “hacks” with others may even show you that there are better ways to do something or you don’t fully understand something. For example, recently I released one of my article about the actions taken by attackers who find your leaked AWS access keys. I was confused why bots used the keys only just after 5 minutes — it’s quite long for automated action, right? Well, after publishing the article, one of the reader informed me that GitHub by default put such 5 minutes delay. Would I find it out without publishing the article? Maybe. Maybe not (and argue with others that bots in the wild are so slow 😂).
Share your knowledge to deeply understand
It’s a common fact that one of the best way to ensure yourself that you understand a concept is explaining it to a complete layman. Thus, sharing your knowledge requires from you a deep understanding. However, as we’re constantly in a rush as well as distracted by never-ending notifications, we’re satisfied enough when we know a required minimum of a concept, without spending hours in a focus to deeply understand a concept. For example, when I was writing my tool, the DumpsterDiver, I knew the formula how to count the Shannon’s Entropy, but presenting it on a conference required from me understanding the formula, not just knowing the formula.
Share your knowledge to change the world
As Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his great book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, human beings have been able to dominate the Earth thanks to the ability of cooperating:
“Ants and bees can also work together in huge numbers, but they do so in a very rigid manner and only with close relatives. Wolves and chimpanzees cooperate far more flexibly than ants, but they can do so only with small numbers of other individuals that they know intimately. Sapiens can cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. That’s why Sapiens rule the world, whereas ants eat our leftovers and chimps are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.”
Space flights or any current achievements would be impossible without all the prior discoveries done by previous generations. Thus, I’d like to encourage you my dear reader to consider sharing your knowledge when planning your new year goals. That may be contributing in open source project, starting your blog, giving presentations or a short talk to your teammates. I’m sure that even some concepts may look trivial for you, but many other people may find it very useful, helpful and even inspiring. Who knows, maybe sharing your knowledge will impact another great humankind achievements?