Don’t go it alone.

Share what you know and bring others along with you.

Last year, when Liz was away for a conference, our 9 year old Elzie told me she wanted to make an app. We spent the next day or so coming up with and building a monster maker quiz. After answering a few multiple choice questions and coming up with a name, you end up with a monster based on your choices.

Elzie’s Monster Maker Quiz

I got to teach elzie how to sketch a monster and segment it into different arms, legs, torsos, and heads. Then we moved on to digitizing the sketches in Procreate , and finally put together the html and javascript for the actual quiz.

Not only was it a great way to spend time with my daughter and introduce her to simple coding skills; it also forced me to really think about the way I approach design and coding problems.

The process of teaching, having to simplify as much as possible, exposed opportunities for me to improve my own design and building processes. For example, clearly defining the steps we were going to take at the outset of the project (something I wouldn’t normally do on a small personal project) made it significantly easier than my normal small personal projects (big surprise, right?).

My point is less about the the specific thing I learned than it is about the fact that having to involve someone else in the process took me off of autopilot so I could learn something.

I’d encourage you to find a friend or family member and collaborate with them on something you’re an expert on, but they’re not. Build an app, write a story, build a snowman, maybe create a newsletter. Not only will you pay into someone else; but I wouldn’t be surprised if you learn a little something in the process as well.

One of my favorite xckd comics captures the joy that comes from sharing what you know perfectly. It’s easy to take the things we know for granted and look down on or get frustrated with others who don’t. Instead, try and see the opportunity to introduce someone to a new skill or piece of information as an experience we’re privileged to share.

“Ten Thousand” from xkcd

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