Identifying the "fear of go" is the first step on the road to making the fear go away.
Poke The Box
The Domino Project
March 1, 2011
This post is the thirty-fifth part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series can be found on the series landing page.
This post is about why I type during demos.
My friend Buck Woody (Blog | @buckwoodyMSFT | SQLPeople) says "Never type in demos." I'm not typing in demos to irritate my friend. I love Buck. He rocks.
I type in demos to fail. Well, not really, but sometimes. Attendees are present for a reason. Usually part of that reason is to learn something new or more about a technology or business practice. At least I hope that's part of why attendees come to my presentations. But in-person events provide so many more opportunities: meeting new people, networking, sharing a meal, looking people in the eye, etc. Another opportunity is: An in-person presentation gives you and I the opportunity to take a technological journey together. "I'm Andy and I'll be your tour guide today as we navigate the sometimes perilous SSIS Expression Language River..." Typing in a demo is one way to confer that we're in this together.
I've written about the value of failing (here, recently). Andy Warren (Blog | @sqlAndy) writes (well) about failure. Steve Jones (Blog | @way0utwest | SQLPeople) wrote about failure last week. Jeremiah Peschka (Blog | @peschkaj | SQLPeople) is writing about failure as well. If I try and fail, what really happened? Some will undoubtedly view the presentation as worthless, delivered by someone who can't even get their own demo code correct. There's a possibility I will alienate attendees who feel this way... maybe. I think the positives outweigh this so much that it's worth taking the shot time and time again. "Really, Andy?" Really. "What are these positives of which you type?"
I've been working with SSIS for a long time. Before that I worked with T-SQL, Data Mirror, Business Objects, Visual Basic, and a few other programming languages (starting with M6800 machine code when I was 11 in 1975). I have experience writing code.
"Oh, so you're showing off."
No. I'm showing on. I'm demonstrating software or some technique or design pattern and I'm demonstrating that I can and sometimes do fail. I'm also demonstrating risk is not to be feared, shunned, or accepted as an excuse; it is to be tested. My hope is you will see me try and, if I fail, you will hear me explain why the error occurred and then see me try again.
Right up there in front of you, God, and everybody.
Lots of people write about failure and risk and the rewards of overcoming fear - especially fear of failure. Like almost everything else, it's better to learn by example. So I invite you to watch me risk failure, and occasionally fail. For no extra charge, you get to see something else; me getting back up, dusting myself off, and getting right back to work.
The Wrong Idea
Undoubtedly, some derive satisfaction from watching others fail. This is particularly true of some in business. I'm unwilling to change who I am and waste an opportunity to share the inherent value of failing because some choose to compete with me (they could choose to be "coopertitors" with me instead... just a thought...). Snickering may be the response chosen by some.
I'm willing to risk that.
I want you with me during the presentation. I would like for you to engage. I want to share an idea, or a story, or some cool technology; or all of the aforementioned - with you. I want to convey that it's ok to fail, so I type in demos.
You're not truly free to succeed unless you're free to fail.