In any field with stuff worth learning, knowledge-hoarding is shamefully rampant. Have you ever asked someone you admired about how they made something you’re curious about, only to be rebuffed that “It’s a secret”? It’s happened to me 100s of times, and still, I press on to other sources.
After all, there may be magic in mystery, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a congested artery when it comes to letting the knowledge flow.
A rather peaceful dude, Gandhi, is famed for saying “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
And a man who changed the world and influenced its leaders, Alvin Toffler, said: “Change is not merely necessary to life, it is life.” He also said, “Knowledge is promiscuous. It mates and gives birth to more knowledge.”
It sounds like a riddle, but knowledge has no bedfellows. Knowledge is a resource that becomes more plentiful as it’s used. Like oil or diamonds, there may be conflicts over knowledge, but unlike those materials, knowledge becomes more abundant as it’s applied.
One of the greatest things is to be is a teacher, and I don’t just mean in school: I mean as a spreader of knowledge, a beacon of… enlightenment.
If that sounds too vague, here are encouraging reasons which will work wonders for you:
Sharing secrets creates an abundant culture
To be clear, I’m not talking about revealing identities in the Witness Protection Program or doing anything that’d harm lives, but sharing healthy secrets that others can improve on.
Open source is a fine example when it comes to “abundant culture” in action: chances are even if you don’t know what it is and what it stands for, you’ve reaped some of the benefits. You may have never heard of Apache, but it’s the webserver technology that powers over 1/2 of the world’s websites. By sharing openly, proliferation, adoption, and usage of useful tools can be exponentially increased.
On a related note, Creative Commons has allowed artists to enhance their artistry by sampling and remixing each others’ works without fear of being dampened by complex laws, becoming better creators in the process. Which relates to…
Sharing secrets makes life simpler
One of the reason why the Internet is so popular is because there’s so much sharing of secrets — and still, there are an infinite amount of unanswered questions! Whether it’s blogs or wikis, forums or social networking sites, people want to learn — even if they don’t say it.
A resource I adore is The Straight Dope, which has grown a profuse web community out of a line of hit books. Their mission? To explore and expose plenty of life’s biggest question marks. Like hiccups.
Even with paid staff on numerous sites, time and time again, we see that there are impressive amounts of volunteers who go out of their way to offer assistance and help solve secretive problems.
Great rule of thumb: if you battled your way through a problem and found an answer, you owe it to yourself and the world to share your solution. Spending some time to do this, likely at most a few hours, can create a rippleshock effect which ends up saving far more time than what you originally invested. I do this for a living and a hobby, and here’s a specific example. And since happiness often accompanies simplicity, you should know…
Sharing secrets makes life happier
We have enough problems and don’t need to invent more. You may’ve heard that the guilt of a weighty secret “eats you up”. I think that’s also true for stuff you want to share, but may be shy to. Perhaps there’s a nasty stigma associated with it.
But realizing that simply talking about a problem can be incredibly empowering. Ever heard of Oprah Winfrey? The whole basis of her immensely successful talk show is personal confession and talking about life experiences. Oprah’s done drugs, had weight issues, suffered abusive relationships, and was raped… among many other aches. She’s talked about all these, and in the process, empowered herself and the many millions who can relate to her.
Oprah didn’t begin with such an audience, but grew it over time, as more and more people came to adore her for being open, candid, and earnest. Eventually, some of her viewers would also go on to share their secrets, bettering more lives.
Lift that weight off, and share a secret. It may not be clear who you’re helping yet, especially if you’ve decided to blog about it, but if sharing secrets helps you cope or deal with a pain, it’ll help someone else too.
People love “behind-the-scenes” insight
Everyone knows the cinema is loaded with fictional movies. That doesn’t stop us from enjoying the DVD extras showing “the making of”: from interviews with cast and crew to commentary tracks to wireframe sketches (as Pixar is fond of doing), it doesn’t diminish the greatness of a polished work.
Rather, showing what went into something helps you appreciate it even more. Brian Transeau aka BT, the versatile electronic musician, has given numerous at-length insights into his production techniques. That’s very unusual in snobby dance music scenes. What’s it done for him? Garnered many fans, encouraged other producers to try out (and thus be influenced by) his suggestions, and advanced the functionality of music-making programs. Furthermore, it’s challenged him to keep changing and growing.
Coming up with new secrets then sharing them later is all part of the fun.
Secret-sharers are heroes
Conflict is inevitable in our existence. It’s no coincidence that if you share secrets that enlighten fellow humans, some tightminded folks will crawl out of the woodwork and bash you for letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. If it can happen to Bruce Lee opening up kung fu to the masses, it can happen to you. Don’t worry, your nemeses are just trying to cover up their sheer lack of progress while you blaze new trails.
That’s why being a secret-sharer requires bravery. And who’s brave? A hero!
You’ll be known as a generous person
Everyone, with the exception of Scrooge, loves generosity. Your pockets may not be lined with bling, but if you get the word out about a useful secret that saves people time & trouble, whether it’s an overlooked discount code or an obscure Firefox add-on that makes their online life easier, you’ve contributed something positive.
You’ll be remembered for that.