Teaching Someone to Fish Ain’t Easy but It’s Worth the Effort

Teaching Someone to FishDo you find that it’s easier just to do something yourself rather than teaching someone else how to do it?

The old proverb about teaching someone to fish may be true, but it’s pretty damn hard. Sure some people are born teachers, and teaching comes naturally to them. That’s also the case with people who are born salespeople — it’s an innate ability.

But how to teach effectively is a skill and can be learned.

It’s more than just dumping information on people. Teaching is a lot like sales (which is why some of the best salespeople I’ve ever known were former teachers). You have to understand the way people think and how to engage them. You have to be able to use the power of storytelling to connect, and make points compelling.

So how do you do that? By modeling great teachers.

Think back to your favorite teachers. What made them great? What about their teaching style made you want to learn from them, and allowed them to stand out?

Why Would You Want To Teach?

Have you ever taught somebody something? How did they look at you afterwards? One of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise is to teach it to someone. We tend to hold in high regard those that are able to teach us something of value.

Humans are naturally curious and have a thirst to learn. If you can effectively teach someone, you have proven your expertise in a powerful way.

If you teach someone to fish, you don’t just feed them for a lifetime — you create a relationship. That creates a loyal customer, and it may just create an evangelist.

Update: Proof of the Impact

I rarely go back and update posts, but this is a perfect example of how the right information, along with support and encouragement, can literally change lives. As proof of the impact the right teacher can have, check out this post by Stephen Hopson. Thanks for sending me this Stephen.


  1. Great post, Tony. It’s really strange because I was just thinking along those same lines the other day, how simply throwing info at someone isn’t teaching. Teaching requires taking someone through the steps, a science called pedagogy. In my case, when I’m writing a blog article it’s something to think about.

  2. Wow. Just this morning I’ve been asked by a teacher (I’m still in school, sometimes ;-)) to teach the class some things about CSS and I’m still a bit like: “Ok. But I’m no teacher.”
    Maybe you’ve just posted what I need..

  3. The interesting thing about this article is that EVERYONE is a teacher, whether they realize it or not. Some happen to be paid for it like my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Jordan.

    Consider the times when you reached out and touched someone in a time of great need where you dispensed some great wisdom without realizing it. That’s part of being a teacher.

    Ever heard of the saying that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”? Well, it’s true!

    Thanks for sharing the article Tony. Oh yes, thank you also for sharing the YouTube video above, giving visual proof that teachers really do make an impact.

  4. Agreed, but to add more (feeling like commenting badly)….

    so I started as a software developer and while leading the teams, got into informal training of the resources, then into formal training of corporate teams for technologies and now as an independent trainer, I am enjoying teaching a lot.

    You get to meet people, you solve their problems …(and finally if the group is really new, they find you smart…. just kidding or …may be not)

    Few things, I have learned from good trainers (huff.. I want myself to be counted in them) are:

    1) First define the scope of the session and a small list of items you’d like to cover

    2) At least in your heart, make sure that you know the subject

    3) Make sure you understand the level of the group

    4) Put yourself in their shoes and think of possible queries. (and answers too)

    5) In the start, talk to them about what you want to cover

    6)Having milestones for the session is very helping, so if I teach my four year old kid about fishing, I need to start with dear do you know fish, if yes then proceed to discuss its habitat, otherwise (hold your head and) discuss the fishes first and close that.

    7) Be good in having analogy, it makes life easier for the trainee to visualize things. (not as bad as I have given in 6)

    8)At the end, conclude and verify that you did that, if you could not then why and keep the noted.

    9)Wit is required, I don’t think anybody would like as bore the comment as this is. people loose interest.. (if you have already lost, you have not read this)

    so these are just 9, I can blurt 91 more to make this a round figure. But I am kind of very kind hearted , so closing this here.

    Take good care of yourself and your family!

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