Everyone has heard that snarky line “those who can’t, teach.” The updated version is said with even more venom: “those who can’t, coach.” I have no use for the throwaway cruelty that lies at the heart of both phrases. Such statements either come from self-loathing or the petty judgement of those standing outside the arena. “Not good enough” never serves anyone and never gets anything done.
And think about it for a moment - this whole idea has a flip side: “those who can, must.”
Whether you’re teaching or doing, “can’t” and “must” are limiting and damaging
My 2016 project, #365StrongStories, has taught me a great deal about what it means to do something every day just because you can. It very quickly becomes a dangerous "should."
I’m a born writer. It’s what I do for work and for fun. But when writing becomes a massive obligation - I must because I can, I must because I committed, I must because I am not good enough if I don't… Then you run the risk of making every word a punishing, impossible chore.
In the process of all this doing, all this daily writing, I remembered why I took up teaching and coaching storytellers and writers. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do the writing myself but because it doesn’t make sense for me to do that full time. My creative resources won’t stretch that far. And I do not think they are supposed to.
Remember the value in teaching and coaching others
When Melvin Varghese of Selling the Couch interviewed me, I had a chance to share my insights into why storytelling is important to clinicians in private practice and how to use it to connect to clients. I also talk about making a sane, compassionate commitment to your writing practice.
As I listened back on our conversation, I was struck by the value that lies not just in doing but in supporting the process of those who are trying to find their own way. Humbly and gratefully, I fell just a little bit more in love with the work I get to do.
Save your resources for the stories that matter. Support your creative process by guiding others. When all else fails, support your creative process by pulling out the earbuds and going for a walk as you listen to someone else discuss her craft.