Some years ago I learned about what some call the "greatest transfer of knowledge in human history". This transfer of knowledge started with the Greek philosopher Socrates and include four people you may have heard of; Socrates taught Plato, Plato taught Aristotle and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. Although I first heard of this relationship many years ago, I often return to these four men to think of the enormity of their connection. Although each of these men were giants in their fields, and were a succession of both student and teacher, they were not carbon copies of each other. They learned from their teacher, but did not feel they had to be just like him. They learned, developed their own ideas and progressed thought further forward.
As far as history knows, Socrates did not write anything down. What is know about him comes from the writings of his star pupil Plato who uses Socrates as the main character and teacher in many of his Dialogues. Despite all of the good that Socrates did for mankind, he was not exactly appreciated by the ancient Greeks. He was charged with the moral corruption of the youth of Athens and impiety. According to Plato, Socrates stood trial, was found guilty and was sentenced to death. His followers encouraged Socrates to flee Athens and many in the city expected him to do just that. However, Socrates refused to make a mockery of the trial. Rather than fleeing his beloved Athens, he drank hemlock, as he was ordered at his sentencing. Socrates remained true to his beliefs in the face of death. Rather than taking the easy way out, he chose to stand on his ideals. The loss to himself did not matter. What mattered was that his students, and all of the people of Athens, saw a man who did what was right no matter how many people said it was wrong.
After Socrates death, Plato opened his school of philosophy, The Academy, It was there that he further developed his own ideas and taught them to others. Aristotle was one of those students who studied with Plato for twenty years before opening his own school, The Lyceum. Alexander the Great was tutored by Aristotle until the age of 16. He became King of Macedon at age 20 and as a result of an incredibly successful military campaign ( in which he was never defeated) created one of the largest empires of the ancient world.
Each man impacted the world in his own way. Each was a student of the one before, learned from them, yet did not feel they had to be a carbon copy of them. So what is my point in all of this? At any given point in your life, you are a link in a transfer of knowledge. At times you are a teacher and at other times a student and quite often, you are both at the same time, learning from those wiser than you and teacher those less experienced than you.
Each of us is gifted in different ways and that gift is just what is needed by someone each and everyday. Perhaps you don't have a gift to be a teacher, no problem. You may have a gift of compassion, patience, humor, empathy, writing, it does not make a difference where your gift lies, by using that gift everyday, you will be transferring what you have to someone else, and that is teaching in its purest form baby.