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Share Your Secrets to Be The Change

Share Your Secrets to Be The Change

    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.”

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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