Putting yourself out there is hard but you need to do it
Scott Hanselman recently posted about putting yourself out there by publishing an open source project in which you do the best you can today and put it out there for others to use …and ultimately critique. And that is hard. I recently posted an image I love describing where the magic happens which touches on the idea of stepping out of your comfort zone to push yourself to be better. This notion applies to nearly every industry it would seem And this seems to be a common topic that is top of mind for many people – throughout our history as people!
If you look into it this topic it is generally a well described topic that goes way back in our history. How is it that making yourself better by stepping out of your comfort zone to help you get on a path to greater success isn’t taught from day one in our school systems?
“He who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend his entire life on one leg.” ~Chinese Proverb
This is the conversation I always find myself having with people when trying to get them to take the next step in their programming career. Regardless of if that next step is to write a blog post, publish an open source project, contribute to an existing project, speak, host a group or internet discussion, work somewhere where you are the dumbest guy in the room, etc. It always comes down to these questions and statements.
I’m not going to put myself out there.
I’m afraid to fail.
I’m afraid to succeed.
What are they going to say about me?
What if I’m not good enough?
What if they laugh at me?
Are people going to think I’m weird?
What are people going to think of me?
Looking back at the first book I published I am horrified. At that time I thought distributed was simply moving the work over the wire to another box. A web server called a backend web service hosted elsewhere but still a synchronous call for every action. Yes…somewhat improves some scaling stories. But not distributed. And that book was on web forms with the MVP pattern to support better testing…at the same time that the new MVC framework was coming out – effectively the “death of web forms”…we thought. It was also a snapshot around my understanding of DDD…but not DDD as I know it now today. There are all sorts of things in that book that I would never do now. If I had my preference I would have taken that book back shortly after I published it. But it was my best effort at the time.
AND IT DID GREAT. And CONTINUES to do great. Because it helps people for whom that book is still a good definition of how to do things better. Or for institutions that have still not taken the jump to MVC…it helps.
As an example, that book is #68 on Amazon in the category of ASP.NET. Compared to “ASP.NET MVC in Action” which came out in the same time frame and was clearly the better book (in my mind) – now placed #1,668,320. The latest version of that book “ASP.NET MVC in Action 4” is #846,639 – a way more current topic.
Put your thoughts, whatever they are, out there for all to see. You will help someone. Even if you only help them by showing them how “not to do” something. That is help. I can’t tell you how many iterations of YouTube videos I go through on my farm prior to jumping off into un-explored territory. There are way more “how not to do” videos out there than videos that really help me grok something. But it all has value.
A related side note: A focus on helping others is an easy way to achieve many goals for success. Remove the me me me from your vocabulary and thought processes and you will shine. If you did something that helped somebody in your day to day life, at work or otherwise, write that down and publish it for all to see. If you write code that makes someone else’s job better, publish that. Almost everybody does something small for people near to them.
You just need to get over the hump to share it to a global audience and you are on the right path!