So this past week I attended Codemash, and as always it was a real blast. Lots of great speakers, lots of great attendees, and just an overall great atmosphere (It doesn’t hurt that it is at an awesome water park either!). While I wasn’t speaking a number of my peers were, and on topics that I’m pretty familiar with. This got me to thinking. Why in the world didn’t I submit talks on any of these subjects? I certainly know enough to have given some of these talks! Android and TDD? Yes I could’ve done that, I’ve certainly made it through the fire on that one! Using Feature Toggles? We used them profusely on my previous project, I have a thing or two to say on them. The Command/Query design principle? Check. I told myself that no one wanted to hear me talk about those things, and besides, I have sooo many other things I was doing.
Rewind a couple of Codemashes back when I had an idea to create a speaker feedback site. I said to myself “Why doesn’t Codemash (or any number of other conferences) have an easy way for attendees to provide feedback to the speakers?” I know I would love to have something like this as a speaker, because honestly I could really use it. I immediately followed this thought up with “That’s probably a waste of time, someone has probably done it already, and besides, no one is complaining about this”. I didn’t follow up on the idea after that thought. This year I heard no fewer than half a dozen people state they wished something like this existed.
So why didn’t I submit anything? Why didn’t I build the feedback system? It’s not like I haven’t been a speaker before, and it’s not like I haven’t built things before. So what was it?
The problem was that I listened to that voice in the back of my head, the one that said I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t have anything valuable to contribute. I listened to this quiet, fearful, voice that didn’t want me to put myself out there. This is the voice that says it’s easier to play it safe, to be comfortable where I am. This is the voice that is afraid that I’ll be criticized for my work, that I’ll be deemed less than worthy.
This little, small-minded, fearful voice is full of shit.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you have had any number of good ideas, good opportunities to grow, good things you could share with the world. Maybe you’ve got that little voice in your head too, the one that is telling you to simply take it easy, the one that is telling you that you don’t know enough, or that no one wants to hear what you have to say.
I’m here to tell you stop listening to that voice and to follow up on your good ideas.
Take those ideas and run with them. Don’t think about what might happen if you fail. You know more than you give yourself credit for, and are capable of more than you believe. Give the talk, build the thing, and I’ll do the same.