When you're focused on solving a problem for weeks or months at end, you gain a lot of knowledge and intuition about the particular area you're working on.
Since you only have a limited attention span and waking hours, you naturally start to filter the information you consume and the things you learn. I say that this is natural because the more knowledge you have about something, the easier it becomes to learn something closely related, but harder to learn something on a totally different field.
To learn something completely new you need to build new neural pathways or repurpose existing ones, both of which require huge amounts of energy. It also means that during this process you're brain won't release the same levels of dopamine and serotonin that can make you feel good. And if there's one thing humans evolved to do well, is to conserve all the energy possible and keep that dopamine flowing. But I digress.
When you're focused on a problem for a long time, you start filtering the information you consume. The things you read and learn might feel new to you, but they are still within the field your working on, or at least a closely related one.
You also start surrounding yourself with people that are working on the same problems as you.
So you start to construct this little world that revolves around a specific field. All the information you consume is from that field, and all the people you hang out with are all trying to solve problems within that field. It wouldn't be any surprise that some of the information you consume is also created by the same people you hang with.
After a while you forget that this is a world you've essentially created for yourself and start thinking that this tiny bubble is the real world. With this you forget that not everyone in the world has the knowledge you have.
This can be made worse by working in a cohesive group of people where everyone is really smart.
One minute you're teaching someone about something new, the next minute they're teaching you about how they've done it before, and the mistakes you're making.
This has happened to me both at Docker and OutSystems, and reinforced my unconscious belief that everyone in the world has the same or more knowledge than I have.
So it's only natural that after a while you think there's nothing you can teach to others. This is not exactly the same thing as impostor syndrome. You might not feel as an impostor that's going to be exposed at any moment, but you feel that there's no point in writing a blog post or presenting at a conference, because what you have to say is already known by everyone else.
But from my experience this is not the case. Whenever I write a post or present at a conference, I always have people come up to me with a bunch of really interesting questions. And that's when I realize that what I'm talking about might be trivial to some people in the room, but it's completely new to others.
More importantly, writing a post or presenting in a conferences forces me to structure my thoughts in a way that isn't really possible otherwise.
So, you don't really have anything to lose.
Go out and teach that shit!
In the worst case scenario, whatever you're teaching is trivial but you structured your thoughts so you gained more expertise on the subject. In the best case, you'll get input from others that might improve your work a thousandfold.
I've also been writing and presenting at conferences for 3 years now, and I know how scary it feels the first time. And if you're an introvert like me, public speaking will never come easy.
By what most people don't know is that writing and public speaking are skills. Some people are better, some people are worse, but with deliberate training everyone can improve.
I'm also lucky enough to cross paths with very smart people, and I'm always amazed by what others have to teach me. But I also know that I'm lucky. Not everyone gets to be at OutSystems or Docker, and be exposed to the same people and ideas.
That's why I'm always pushing people to write and present. It will make them grow but also allow them to share their knowledge and experiences with the world at large.
And yes, if you already have a post or presentation about something, I can read it offline and then pick your brain even further on our next lunch!
I've been trying to convince people to write and present for a while now. Last year I was really excited when Caldeira, a former friend at OutSystems, and also kind of a mentor wrote is first post. Check it out!
And just last week I was having the exact same conversation over lunch with Chika, our user researcher at Docker, where I was trying to her convince to present her work at a conference.
So I'm kind of saving myself some time. This way I can just send people a link to this post, and hopefully convince them to share their knowledge without having to ramble for half an hour.