Last week, I attended #HRevolution and #HRTechConf. This blog, clearly, is not an HR blog or a marketing blog (which is what I do in the HR industry). But, I am compelled to share my experience, nonetheless. I think you’ll enjoy it even though HR might not apply to you.
At both events, especially #HRevolution, I was beyond impressed with the knowledge, insight and creativity of the HR and marketing professionals in attendance. So much so that, within the first 30 minutes of my first session, I was too intimidated to tweet or post (which is encouraged) about the content. Further, I was too intimidated to speak up and contribute to the incredible conversations happening during the sessions for fear of saying the wrong thing and looking foolish.
The people at these events were very welcoming and encouraged sharing, but I was mute. This rarely happens to me. Yes, many years ago when I was a freckle-faced, skinny junior high girl with braces, I was shy. But, fast forward to today, and being ‘shy’ is no longer how most people would describe me. However, when sat down in a room of professionals that I admire and aspire to be like, suddenly I found myself quiet.
I’ve also noticed this shy behavior when it comes to writing and blogging. After writing for quite awhile over at my old site, I attempted to cultivate online relationships and partnerships with other bloggers to grown this little blog. Instead, I found that the more I dug for information and researched other bloggers/writers, the more I realized that I wasn’t at the caliber of most of the women (and a few men) whose blogs I admired. And, as a result of my newly-realized incompetence, I became shy.
How? I stopped writing as much. I began to doubt whether or not what I was writing was valuable or unique. I thought I needed a better site, a catchier title, better photos, and more extensive understanding of search engines and social media to even think about blogging. And so, as you may or may not have noticed, my writing and frequency of posts has dwindled.
When it comes right down to it, HR professionals and bloggers scared me. Like, the two most on-your-side-let-us-try-to-help-you people scared the living daylights out of me because I didn’t know as much as them. I am not the expert that they are. I don’t have as many followers, as many site hits, as deep of a knowledge base, or as engaging of a marketing strategy. Compared to all the HR gurus and blogging superstars, I know very little. So, why even try?
Weighed down with these thoughts, I went running. I ran and ran and ran and ran. All Forrest Gump n’ shit. And during my run, as per usual, a moment of clarity struck me.
I’m not the fastest runner out there. I can’t run the longest distance (seriously, I don’t even know how far an ultramarathon is). I don’t have the best gear or a racing sponsor. People don’t ask me to write about or speak about running. I’m certainly not a professional, an elite competitor, or really a competitor at all. I just run.
However, I am the first to ask you to run with me. I look forward to #runchat every week. I happily chime in on conversations about running, offer advice, and look for an opportunity to convert non-runners to runners. Even though I’m not the best, the fastest, or the most educated on running, I am rarely intimidated by other runners.
And that’s because it never occurred to me not to run. I never thought to walk away from the starting line because I wouldn’t be the first to the finish line. Why would I?? By signing up for races, training hard, and seeking expert advice, I’ve become a relatively decent runner.
So why, especially in my professional life, have I reacted the way I did to a roomful of smart HR people or the blogging community? Instead of ‘lacing up’ and getting out there, I shied away from the opportunity to learn. I skipped the practice I need to get better. I disregarded the concept that we need to put in 10,000 hours to become really, really good at something. And I missed the whole point of attending conferences and sharing online – getting to learn from the experts.
So, my takeaway? Keep putting one metaphorical foot in front of the other. For work, the only way I’ll show up at next year’s conference ready to participate fully is if I join in conversations throughout the year, be willing to say the wrong thing so other people can teach me, do my homework and work, work, work.
And the same for my blog. By continuing to write and continuing to network, I’ll only get better. Create, create, create. Write, write, write.
No matter how intimidated you may feel, no matter how unsure of your own work you are, keep at it. Never Give Up. Otherwise, you’ll continue to stand on the sideline instead of run the race. And I can tell you from experience, it’s much better to run the race.