Early on in my career I had this weird aversion for people who wrote blogs. I’m pretty sure at least part of it was a result of the nordic phenomenon called the Law of Jante, which can be summarized as a code of conduct used colloquially to denote a social attitude of disapproval towards expressions of individuality and personal success (thanks Wikipedia).
And, while the actually originates from fiction, you can certainly notice it’s effect to a certain extent.
You’re not to think you know more than we do.
When I read blogs online I used to think to myself; Why are they sharing this? What are they hoping to gain by writing articles, posting to Twitter and talking at conferences? Personal gain, influence and fame? Or is there something else at play here?
You’re not to think you are anything special.
If you find yourself in agreement with what I just wrote or hold similiar views, please take a minute to reflect on who writes all the answers on StackOverflow, Microsoft Techcommunity and the blogs you keep going to for work, and so on.
It’s obvious to me now that my take on blogging was wrong, but it took some time to actually understand why. The two main things I learned was the following;
- Some people share because they are really passionate about what they do
- You can write or create something that you find nice or useful without wanting something more out of it
One thing in particular that helped me get over my initial hurdle was Austin Kleon’s book “Steal Like An Artist”. I was convinced that everything was known and everything was written about. In my mind I had nothing to contribute other that derivative writings combining the work of much greater women and men.
You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
I’m not a rockstar hacker presenting some fresh exploit or new novel attack, so what do I have to contribute? Well, throughout reading “Steal Like An Artist” I learned that most work is derivative in some way, and that’s okay.
We find inspiration from people we look up to, people we respect and work we admire. We can take all that and through our experience and knowledge convert it into something that’s ours. Something that, yes, might be derivative, but not so much so that it’s not valuable in it’s own way.
You’re not to think you can teach us anything.
The value comes from providing something that’s relevant to whatever field you work in. For me it’s information technology and security, for others it might be art; like writing a book or painting. Through strong fundamentals based on our knowledge an skills and inspirations from our peers, heroes and work we admire we can create something new. Something painted by our experience and shaped to fit the message you want to put out.
You’re not to think you are good at anything.
That’s quite abstract and fluffy, I’ll admit that. So let’s drag this back down to earth. You might be thinking, in this day and age of AI, plagiarism of libraries of content, both written and recorded, and “everyone” wanting to be a influencer; why should YOU start sharing your work?
You’re not to imagine yourself better than we are.
Another book to mention at this point is another one by Austin Kleon called “Show Your Work”. Here he focuses more on the side of why you specifically should start sharing your work.
Maybe the most important thing is that in order for people to be inspired and learn, someone had to start sharing at some point. Take a look at the internet today.
What websites have you have recently visited to get an answer to some questions? Wether they are technical, personal or something else entirely - someone wrote or created that to help others. By sharing their work, they helped you with yours. And that’s something you can also do!
You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
I’m not saying everyone should be influencers and bloggers, nor should people think about their personal brand for every action or move they take.
No, what I’m saying is; if you’re passionate about something, wether it’s painting or writing code, start sharing. Maybe no one will watch, that’s fine. Maybe your posts blow up and people start contacting you to hold talks at conferences, that’s also fine. The point isn’t really the result at all.
The point is, you’re creating something you are passionate about. You’re learning, putting yourself out there, growing as a person. If one or many people find it helpful, you have the bonus of having contributed to the worlds global knowledge-bank - and that’s pretty cool.
You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
In the end, you’re just one person in the giant cogwheel. Maybe you’re the next big thing, maybe you’re just someone sharing into the void.
For me, the most important aspect of sharing isn’t what I get out of it, it’s more about what I can (hopefully) teach others and what I learn when I research for my articles and talks.
It helps me become better at what I do, but it also helps me stay hungry for knowledge, better appreciate the hard work of others, and challenge myself by stepping outside my comfort zone.
You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
All that being said, I do understand a lot of people have aversions towards sharing their own work, for multiple reasons.
If you’re afraid of being wrong (which happens a lot, trust me) or people not liking what you have to say or what you created - that’s part of the price you pay. It does gets easier with time, but that might also just be age and not caring as much anymore.
I prefer the stoic way of thinking about sharing my work; this means I try not tiyng my wellbeing to things which I have no control over, like people’s opinions about me. Thus, if I’m wrong or someone doesn’t like what I have to say, that’s more than fine. I learned something either way.
You’re not to laugh at us.
Hopefully this gives you a slight incling to maybe start typing some words down on a page, or start sharing some things you have created.
Maybe you even pick up a copy of the two books I’ve recommended; they’re aimed at creatives, but I think technology can be very creative as well. If nothing else, now you know why I share my work.