Having skin in the game
Not long ago I had a private conversation with myself.
I said, “Self, why aren’t you writing anything?”
And what I specifically meant by this question was why wasn’t I writing anything to share with the web community? I’m a developer by profession and I do share a ton of information across multiple channels in the form of reposts, retweets, and all other manner of “re”-something with the web community as a whole. So why didn’t I have my own words out there?
“Because,” I said back.
Not a very original answer, Self.
“Because…everyone else is already doing that.”
Hmm. Okay, continue.
“Because there are more talented developers already sharing what they know.”
“Because someone else has already said it better than I can say it.”
Over the course of this private conversation I started realizing that my excuses were all based on the idea that my words weren’t good enough. Translation: my skill as a developer wasn’t good enough. It was okay to share someone else’s ideas and words because there was no risk; those belonged to someone else. But if they were mine, the risk seemed too high.
For a number of years I sat amazed at all the developers who seemed to not have any care about putting themselves out there, who wrote about any number of topics and then shared it with the world. And anytime I ever said to myself, “I can do that,” this little voice in my head was quick to respond, “But it won’t be as good as what someone else has already done.”
Possibly it would be just as good. Possibly someone else would learn from it. Possibly I’d understand the subject better through writing about it.
So many possibilities become obscured when self-doubt and fear creep into our heads. Insecurities begin to raise questions like, “What if my ideas aren’t good? What if others question my ability? How will I be judged?” It can be a difficult hurdle for anyone, but it doesn’t make you less capable or less valuable a contributor.
We work in an industry that thrives on competition. The web community has many talented individuals taking time from their own lives to share their experiences. Maybe some of them also carry similar doubts and fears. Maybe some of them recognize the risk but choose instead to try to help make the web community better.
In my private conversation with myself I had to challenge my own way of thinking. Yes, doubts and fear are normal, but can also be paralyzing. No, I don’t have all the answers. Yes, I can continue to learn.
So, Self, it’s time to put ourselves out there.