I feel extremely grateful to the countless number of people throughout history who figured out how to do something well or right, documented it and then shared it with others.
I suppose I could just say that I’m grateful for the scientific method – but its not the method I’m talking about here today, its the people willing to use it and the fact that they share their findings in hopes that the next person to confront the dilemma or issue can skip a few steps, gain new perspective or just learn something new.
I think of it more like a culture of sharing useful information and it’s the people who exercise it outside their tribe (family, co-workers, investors, etc.) to whom I’m particularly grateful.
Sure, some of these people have made a lot of money helping others help themselves but most don’t. The incredible volume of actually useful do-it-yourself instructional videos on YouTube that will never make any money for the creators is pretty astounding.
Why do these people do it? Maybe they thought their video would go viral or that it could lead to some other lucrative activity. That doesn’t bother me. I believe that this is one of the seldom recognized great things about humans that’s easy to overlook in the 24 hour news cycle era. I believe we’ve somehow incorporated the idea of helping the next person into our lives over the course of who-knows-how-long.
That’s not to say that all information out there is good. It’s not. I’ve been into self-help books since I was about 24 years old. A few great ones stand out including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Feeling Good Handbook. But for every one of those, there’s at least one Four Agreements or The Secret – books that enjoy popularity and have some good parts but mostly rely on subjective, spiritual mumbo-jumbo or pseudo-science as a basis for their teachings and/or, in my opinion, are less about truly growing and more about justifying irresponsibility (and making money for the author.)
But by and large, there’s a lot of good, useful information out there and in fact the concept of school and education is an outcropping of our evolved sense of helping the next person.
So the next time someone impatiently or angrily tells me when I’m doing something wrong or that there’s an easier or better way, I hope to take a step back and just thank the person for caring enough to set me on a better course.