Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

3 Steps to Becoming an Expert

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In surgical training there is a saying about the learning process.

See one. Do one Teach one.

Don’t worry, the training isn’t usually that abbreviated. Realistically the saying should be “See several. Do many with someone else there. Do some on your own. Teach what you have learned every chance you can get.”

The point is that knowledge is gained and shared through a simple, but active, process. Learning. Doing. And teaching.

The same process can apply to the stories we live.

photo by Stanford Medical History Center (creative commons)

1. See One

One of the best ways to gain insight on how to live a better story is to know someone who already does. Great resources include:

  • Parents
  • Good friends
  • Mentors

The key idea is that others have gone before us. They have made mistakes. They have discovered what works and what doesn’t. Use their knowledge and experience. Use their insight.

As you see more and gather the knowledge of others as your own, then you can begin to build on what they each you.

(If you need helping finding a mentor, read this guide by Jeff Goins.)

2. Do One

The key to learning anything is doing it.

Knowledge unapplied is only theoretical and is practically worthless. (Feel free to tweet that.)

Whether your art is playing a musical instrument, writing a book, starting a business, or fixing someone’s broken leg, nothing is learned until you do it yourself.

There are 3 levels of doing.

  • Begin – There is always the incredibly difficult first time. Sometimes beginning is the hardest step of all.
  • Practice – Repetition is the key to truly learning anything.
  • Create – Once your base knowledge and experience grow, it becomes time to create something new with it.

What keeps you from trying? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Comparing yourself to others?

Having a dream is not enough. You have to do something about it. 

3. Teach One

Unfortunately some of us stop after we do. What good is knowledge gained if it isn’t passed on to those who come behind us?

After you make progress, gain some experience, and make some mistakes, it becomes your turn to teach what you have learned.

The world is a better place when knowledge is shared and ideas spread.

  • Become that parent you wish you had.
  • Be the same kind of friend to others that helped you learn.
  • Offer to mentor those that need help to find their way.

There are two critical aspects of being a good teacher.

Be available. And care. If you can do that, you can teach.

Becoming an expert involves all three of these aspects. The more you can see and do and teach, the more experienced you will be.

In your own story, what has helped you become more experienced? Have you been able to see one, do one. or teach one?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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18 Replies

  1. Katharine Trauger

    You know this is true, but how many people want to know how to fix bones, or do what you do? Or what I do, which is run a home. I find I must include a Scriptural or Spiritual application even to interest the Christians among us. I mean, are YOU drawn, automatically, to knowledge about how to iron a shirt? Or would you be enticed with this knowledge if it expressed your relationship to Christ, instead? See?

  2. I’m a huge advocate of teaching others what you know. It’s a great way to continue learning even after you have the experience. As you’re teaching others, they’re bringing new questions to you, challenging you to step up and continue educating yourself and sharpening your saw.

  3. My hope was that you would feel that this applied to anything, not just what I do.

  4. I agree. Teaching others is a huge step in the learning process.

  5. “see one, do one. or teach one” Reminds me of when I was in recovery. They called it “Pass it On” I think we lose out on so much when we stop at learning and don’t choose to teach others.

  6. Be available. And care.

    The Chinese love a good four character/word saying. This, this is one to live by. I think I’m claiming it as my new motto!

  7. Thanks for sharing this! I have found these steps to be true in many aspects of my life. I find that I can “master” something when I have actively learned from more experienced people through the steps you explained.

    Great stuff!

  8. Yes, teaching also helps you learn more as well. You have to be an expert in order to teach someone effectively.

  9. Great practical wisdom here. I was just reading a piece on the lost art of apprenticeship, and how it created mastery and discipline.

    I love the “see one, do one, teach one.” For me, nothing has been quite as powerful for solidifying my expertise as being able to teach it.

  10. The awesome picture grabbed my attention, and the wise advice kept it. I especially like the teaching part because it’s a step most ignore (and yet, in my opinion, the one that really puts you over the top!)

  11. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Skip. I agree, teaching is often the time when you really learn something.

  12. I would guess that apprenticeship is lost because we are so transient in our jobs. Becoming an apprentice implies commitment, often a life long one.

  13. I love Chinese sayings. So much is said in so short a sentence. Do you have a good source for more?

  14. I assume, guitar is one of those things for you. Do you ever teach?

  15. That’s a good point. Typically it would be a 10 year commitment (not unlike college/medical school) beginning at a young age. Once you emerged a journeyman, you could travel and practice your trade anywhere. I would have to guess that methods of travel available also kept people from being so transient, making apprenticeships a better fit.

  16. Guitar is one of those things. I do not teach formal lessons, but I do give lessons to people if they ask or if I’m playing with them or something.

  17. I work in a major manufacturing environment, and we utilize the thought process you’ve described. There’s no experience like live experience, hands on – more than just a concept in your mind, but physical actions. And there’s nothing like standing in front of people as an expert answering their questions.

  18. Q

    What great advice, I think I’ve been avoiding #3 all my life, perhaps it’s bc I haven’t mastered #1 and #2 is a mess!

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