Share your knowledge

Thomas Jefferson said:

And no matter how many people share it, the idea is not diminished. When I hear your idea, I gain knowledge without diminishing anything of yours. In the same way, if you use your candle to light mine, I get light without darkening your. Like fire, ideas encompass the globe without lessening their density.

Sometimes, in this hectic world, you realise that your knowledge about a subject has increased considerably, and probably at that moment you are an expert on it. The “problem” now is how you ought to handle that situation in regards to your team mates. You can keep such expertise for your own benefit, considering them a sort of nuissance, if not worse. But that is not supportive. As I see it, helping your co-workers is a professional duty, no matter the reason. No matter the guy. You must do it because you must do it. And that´s all. There shouldn´t have to exist more reasons besides that one. Yeah, I know, there are lotsa situations where excuses arise in order not to help someone, but anyway I think it is a good principle to start with. Write it down in your tickler file.

Nonetheless, there are some important benefits of being supportive and willing to give others a hand:

  1. You can cause a great impact in the morale of your huddle, because your positive attitude might make them want to better themselves in turn. The overall competence of your team spikes. Betcha! That´s good for you as well. If this doesn´t work, pull out.
  2. You may think you are an expert. Believe me: even experts are requested to answer questions they don´t know about! IMHO, I consider this awesome. The search for those answers permits you to assimilate unexplored areas of the topic on discussion. Therefore, you are gaining more insight, which is always neat. For example, the other day someone asked me about subversion, and how this system performs the merging. I thought I had that under control. I explained to him the basics of the merging in subversion, the reason it should be called diff-and-apply instead of merging, how two revisions from the origin and destination trees are applied to the working copy, and so on. So far, so good. All the same, point in time, he asked me how a merge was actually applied to a specific file in the working copy. That was kinda going thorugh bad times, because I didn´t understand it seamlessly, hence I wasn´t able to provide him with an answer. Well, in fact, I had to look up that section in a subversion book, read it thoroughly, sink in all that stuff, and lastly give to him the right answer. I could have told him to grab a book and look it up. That would have been a lazy behaviour and, what it´s much worse, I would still be thinking I have that part under control now. It´s wonderful not to be an expert in nearly anything, isn´t it?
  3. Corollary: the rest of the team come to trust they can rely on you when they feel they´re dead in the water.

Corollary to the last Corollary: Be nice 😉


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