12 Apr 2014
At least once a week, I see a tweet from someone who’s written an article, blog post, or talk, and they preface the link to their work with something like this:
“I wrote a little thing…”
This really bugs me. I almost see it as an apology for the fact that they’re sharing it with me: “Sorry to bother you, but there is this little tidbit you may or may not be interested in, no problem if you’re not.”
And THEN, when I click over to the post, often I’ll see one or more caveats that read something like this:
“Maybe I’m crazy.”
“I don’t pretend to call myself an expert.”
“There are plenty of people who have addressed this before, and far better than I can here.”
“These are just a few ideas I’ve been kicking around, so take them with a grain of salt.”
People of Earth: Stop apologizing for your ideas.
If you have an idea, own it. Just because someone else has already talked about it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t. And so what if it’s not perfectly articulated? So what if it turns out to be wrong? So what if you change your mind later?
When it comes to the Web, you are participating in a fluid, ever-evolving conversation. No matter your level of expertise, you belong here. In fact, as a Web professional, you are better positioned than most people to share your unique experiences, put forth hypotheses, and riff on other people’s thoughts. Because the Internet.
Here’s a big secret: when it comes to the great wide world of digital, we are all making it up as we go. We’re all just constantly throwing stuff on the wall and figuring out what sticks. Even the most well-recognized experts lie awake at night and worry about mistakes they made today … and what mistakes they’ll make tomorrow. Don’t kid yourself about that.
I don’t care where you do it: in a forum, on Twitter, on a blog, in an article, on the stage, at a Meetup, even just around the office. Step up. Speak up. You have a right and a responsibility to contribute. Replace “I’m not an expert” with “based on my experience.” Instead of “I might be crazy,” say “I’m excited by where this could lead us.” And for pete’s sake, don’t tell me you “wrote a little thing.” Give it to me in all caps: “JUST BLOGGED: My recent thoughts on something that’s important in my work.”
(One other consideration: I find that people who actively share their ideas on a regular basis are sometimes accused of “self-promotion,” which is apparently unattractive. Except I am quite confident that pretty much anyone who is successful in the universe has had to do a little bit of that. So get over it.)
GO BE SMART. BE PROUD. GO ON, NOW.