Pushing Past Fears & Sharing

Written on April 16, 2014

I’m an introvert. This isn’t to be confused with being shy. I don’t fear social opportunities or putting myself out there.

What I do fear is putting myself or my work out into the world for others to stomp on or disregard for being meaningless. For this reason it often pains me to hit the publish button.

Over the past month I did two things I have never done in my life. I ran a live webinar to teach how to code and was interviewed by my friend, Brandon Houlihan for his blog about creatives in the triangle.

I remember the night of the webinar, sitting in front of my laptop rehearsing the slides and material I had prepped. Minutes before the webinar went live to 12 complete strangers that had signed up; I sat there, with my heart thumping hard and contemplating if I should shoot an email out saying I’m having technical difficulties. I could make it up by recording the lesson later, edit to my heart’s content and send it out for those strangers to watch.

Instead, I chose to let the red light go on, the feed went live and I taught for an hour.

Brandon is a crazy talented designer and I was honored to be included on his blog, 147. The interview was conducted in a shared Google doc. Brandon started with a set of questions and as I answered them, he’d follow up with new ones.

There were many times I would take a pause from the questions and read the interviews of other folks on 147. Their stories felt so much cooler than mine. One dude was a film maker who made a film about the Montagnards of Vietnam during the war or my friend, Greg who hosts a frozen food video blog. My stories were, being jumped in the 4th grade in Los Angeles and dropping out of college twice.

Many times I wanted to command + a and hit the delete key because it felt uninteresting. But I didn’t. I made no revisions, Brandon took photos of me to put a face to my stories and he published it.

With both the webinar and the interview, I ran into fears. Fear of lacking in knowledge to teach, fear of being weird or boring, fear of putting myself and things out there and no one even caring. But if I had let these fears cripple me to the point of holding back from teaching or sharing my stories then I would have never gotten responses like these.

"Michael, after a long and kind of 'dreadful' day at work I stumbled upon your interview. I found it to be very inspiring, insightful and above all, I got to know you a little bit more. We definitely have some things in common ;)"
"Cool interview, Mike! It's refreshing to hear you talk about what inspires you. People need to do more of that. It's good for the soul."
"Michael, thanks again for hosting the webinar...I have a coworker who's been looking for something just like your webinar...let him know the next time you host a webinar."

I share these responses not to toot my own horn. But to share the results of what came out of putting myself and my work out into the world – someone found what I was doing valuable.

Each one of us has something to share with the world. Whether it’d be our stories or our craft. You might think these things are insignificant but I challenge you to publicly share it. In doing so I guarantee at least one person will find it valuable and that should be all that matters.

There ain’t going to be anyone who cares you say? Well, how about yourself? You’re a person right?

If I hadn’t done the webinar, I would’ve never taken the time to think about why I write code the way that I do. Or that I enjoy teaching. If I didn’t do the interview, the stories I shared would’ve been left hidden somewhere in my memory perhaps never to be told again.

If not to bring value to others, share your stories and your craft to learn and find value for yourself.

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