134: Teach People… Without Being a Jerk

134: Teach People… Without Being a Jerk

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There’s something that happens in the homesteading/prepper/liberty/agorist (probably any) community when the values they hold and the skills they use are suddenly in the spotlight because of something that’s happening in the world: people pay attention to what you’re doing and sometimes those people want to live the way you do.

When someone is looking at your life and admiring where you’re at and they want to know about how you live your life, 9 times out of ten, they’re looking for education. They’re looking for you to share your experience with them. They want your tips, your how-tos, and your advice.

Today, I’m calling out a certain group of people who will out of one side of their mouth say, “everyone should be self-sufficient!” as if they are salespeople for the cause, but from the other side of their mouth, they’re badmouthing people because of how much they don’t know.

Do you hear the irony in that? Homesteaders badmouthing/teasing/belittling people who want to learn stuff… because they don’t already know stuff?

If you really want more people to be exposed to whatever your cause is or way of living is, but you act like you hold some secret key to the knowledge it takes to live that certain way, you’re not helping your cause. If you make people feel like an idiot for asking questions because they don’t know what you know, you’re not helping your cause.

Also, you’re really annoying.

I’ve seen an increase in this behavior lately (it seems to go in cycles that follow how much chaos is happening in the world) so it’s been on my mind lately. But this topic was also recently talked about for a bit on the Unloose the Goose podcast (episode 35). The episode mostly focused on the importance of “getting stuff done and not just talking about it”, but one section talked about how to interact with people who are interested about how to live the way you do, or are really excited because they stuck one little toe out and put it on the path you’re on. Jack, Nicole, and Xavier talked about the importance of you cheering those people on and giving them resources and education and your knowledge. It talked about the importance of not being a jerk and raining on their parade and telling them how much they don’t know.

If you want to learn about homesteading and you run into people who rain on your parade or make you feel stupid, turn around and leave. Don’t deal with that. Their ego will get in the way of you learning anything.

Many different teachers

Another thing I think is important point out is that there are lots of different teachers for a reason, and I think we are pathways to each other. A couple people have told me that my podcast was the “gateway” to them finding other shows that were more in depth on certain topics or were more “controversial”. And I love that!

Does that mean I don’t have the knowledge that other podcasters have? Not necessarily. Does it mean that I don’t have controversial beliefs? Nope. It just means my platform speaks in a certain way that may appeal to certain people and might just be the stepping stone someone needs to launch to something else. And you know what? Other people’s platforms are launching pads to mine.

The way I see it, we’re all in a big pond together. We should think of ourselves as a community that educates others on how to live the lives they really want to, instead of thinking of ourselves as rungs on a ladder to the sky where one teacher is better than the other. Learning is a process, and it sometimes takes hearing a lot of different voices for the lessons to stick. Many people know similar things or have similar interests but have a different voice with which to speak about them. Jack, Nicole, Tom, Pete, Lettie, Brian, and so many others are all part of a similar (podcaster) community but have different voices, and I love that we can lead each other to each other.

When someone asks you to share knowledge…

When asked to share your knowledge or skills with others, you should meet people on the road where they are and go from there. Understand that they may have read different things than you know and so they might be coming to you with things that you have found to be untrue. This is not the time to call them names or laugh. If they’re asking about something that doesn’t line up with what you’ve experiences, you can simply say “in my experience…”

Now, to be clear, there are people who jump into something and really need to back up and learn some basics before they can be where it is they think they want to be.

And there are also people who “want to learn” and will come at you with so much “I already know all the things” that you wonder why they’re even taking the time to ask you a question.

And there are times as a mentor that you will realize after talking to a potential student that you’re wasting your breath because you are spending all your time helping that student and the student isn’t taking any of your advice—your time is important, too. For goodness sakes, you’ve probably got barn chores to do or fence to fix.

This itty bitty thought is referencing the “mentors” who take someone who is eager to learn and wants to jump in with both feet, and that mentor takes them and squashes them into someone who feels like crap because they didn’t realize that when you start seeds you have to keep the light right down on them or the seedlings will be all spindly and leggy.

How do you know what YOU know?

Unless you were born into a homesteading family, you know what you know about homesteading because someone took the time to teach it to you. Whether that was by way of an in person conversation, a book they wrote, a podcast they recorded, an email they answered, a video they made, etc, it required someone else pouring into you the knowledge they had attained through their own experiences and education.

Some people will say they are self-taught. But unless you got the information you have by really going out there and punting through it yourself—without reading or goggling or youtubing or anything else—your education requires other people in order for you learn. That’s how it works. We all teach each other, we pass along what we know, we learn new things we didn’t know before, and we grow as people.

The next time someone asks you a question about homesteading (or any other way you’re living), stop and consider: do you teach from the ego, or the heart?

— Amy Dingmann, 4-14-21

Links mentioned in podcast:

Episode 21: There Are No Dumb Homesteading Questions

Episode 87 : A Homesteader’s Response to Everyone’s Sudden Interest in Homesteading


My new book! Make Friends with a Dog: 18 Tips to Live a Good Life

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