Happy New Year! It’s amazing that 2015 – the milestone for many key development objectives (think MDGs) – is here already! How quickly time flies. Anyway, as we start off the new year, I wanted to share a bit on the topic of information and knowledge-sharing – issues close to my heart which I’ve been working on for the past few years. Specifically, I’d like to address the reluctance of many Ghanaians (Africans?) to share useful information – particularly with peers in business, career, and academic settings.
Over the past few years I’ve spoken to many good, open-minded, entrepreneurial, resourceful people who also face the same thing: a reluctance to share information that they know could be useful to another. In the personal space, that dilemma is pretty easy to navigate. But what about in the business, career or entrepreneurial landscape? What happens when the information you share holds more weight than it appears to? When most other people keep silent on key information? When ideas are “up for grabs”? How do you strike the balance?
In this video, I address the reluctance to share key information, the crab mentality, and why it’s important to do so anyway. You can also read excerpts from the video below.
Behind The Seens
As someone who strongly believes in the value of knoweldge and information-sharing – and who has benefited multiple times from exactly that – I’m more oft to pass on some information that I think might be useful to others. The saying “Sharing is caring” is very much a part of why Circumspecte exists. But even then, there have been a good number of times when I have questioned why I share so much, and worse, times when I have hesitated to share some piece of potentially useful information.
Various reasons: Worried about how it will be taken (not wanting to “spam” people); wanting to utilize the information myself ; worry that the information might give someone else a leg up over whatever it is I think I’ll be using it for (hey, just keeping it real); reputational risk eg. when it involves recommending someone I who don’t know too well; being on an information overload and wanting to take a break. And so on. In those times I usually take a step back and once I return, I go ahead and share.
After encountering this a number of times, I’ve realized that it’s the good ol’ ego trip. The common thread in all those “reasons”? A sense of inadequacy – as a professional, of information, of opportunity, however you look at it, the cap kinda fits. Those moments have been quite difficult to overcome, precisely because it brings up questions of adequacy, appreciation, wanting to be over “there” instead of right “here”, and so on. But more so because holding back relevant information goes against my very nature.
“What you withold from someone, you withold from yourself.”
The truth of the matter? You lose nothing of real value in sharing useful information with others. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy. As with most other important things, you’ve got to be conscientious about the information you share and remind yourself of the why.
Have your on thoughts on this? Share in comments section below.
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.