See One, Do One, Teach One

do_one.jpegMany moons ago when I was pursuing my anthropology graduate degree I also volunteered in an ER. I was focusing on medical anthropology and seriously considering medical school. Being the geek that I am this was a super exciting way for me to spend my Thursday nights, and a reason for my very British co-worker to make fun of me for bailing on our bi-weekly happy hours.

Although I choose technology instead of med school (for a whole host of reasons that could be its own blog post), I did learn this thing that I believe to be the best advice I have received so far.

See One, Do One, Teach One

The first time I heard this, I had no idea what it meant. I was on the floor at the ER, where most of the time I helped the patient advocates and restocked the trauma rooms (which was an excuse for me to watch real traumas in action cause I NEVER got told to leave). One of the patient advocates asked me to do something that I had never done. My immediate was response was:

“I don’t know how to do that”

to which he replied, “See One, Do One, Teach One”.

“What does that mean”, I asked.

“Well you have seen it right? So now it’s time for you to do it. Next time you should teach someone else. That’s how you learn in medicine. So after you do it, then make sure that you teach someone else and then you will know for sure”.

Simple. Clear. And honestly great advice that I had forgotten about til recently.

What’s great about this advice is that it isn’t esoteric, it’s a method. Follow these three steps to retain knowledge and ensure that you are paying it forward. I think that my brain wrestled this experience back to the top of the pile to remind me that there is a cure for imposter’s syndrome.

It’s teaching.

I get the first two steps just fine, it is the last one where I lose my way. Who has the time to teach every new thing they learn? Who am I going to teach it to? What if I suck at teaching?

I use every excuse in the book. But the truth is that when you teach, and…
I would argue this is the most important part…when you teach what you have just learned, you are at your best.

Empathy for others is a real thing. And no matter how much you want to show you care, there is nothing like the “OMG I just had this problem and it took me forever to fix it so I totally understand what you are going through” moments that make what you teach have a high impact.

I know this from experience but I still forget.

See One. Do One. Teach One.

It is my new goal. My new motto. Cause if it helps people learn when a mistake they make could costs a life, then I should have no fear in applying it to the things that I learn.

For a type A personality like me, some of what is hard about learning new things is being uncomfortable with being wrong so much. Being right feels good, and being wrong feels like being a loser. Most of the time we call this imposter syndrome. In medicine they tell you See One, Do One, Teach One.

Spread the word.


Now read this

Learning How to Learn: Part 2

This is the second part to my take aways from the Learning How to Learn Course. If you are struggling to learn something new, I would recommend checking it out. They offer explanations as to why some of your past methods may not have... Continue →