Well another end to International Work Out Loud Week this year.
Technically, it doesn’t (shouldn’t) end here – working out loud can happen anytime, anywhere however, having a dedicated time every year can do a lot for promoting the practice to people and organisations who want to build some more transparent practices into their work and lives. Sometimes, companies use this week to create a campaigns of various events and activities but be under no illusion that by doing this as a once-off event every year that it’s enough to get people onboard. Like any major change or shift in mindset and behaviours, it will take a LOOOOOOOOONNNNG time, if you’re successful at all.
It begs the question then why do it?
Why keep promoting the practice and keep sharing the stories even when you may not be seeing any physical change in organisations?
Thing is, you’re going to see a change in people – sometimes it will be hidden but something shifts in them. Maybe they start to explore a new interest, maybe they start making moves to change roles or positions in their company, maybe they start showing a truer version of themselves to others?
This week, I had my own personal shifts in thinking about working out loud.
For me, it was a realisation of a couple of things namely:
(a) The real and quite scary admittance of some people that they simply do not want to make themselves or their work visible and, (this came from the realisation that there are authors out there like South African J. M. Coetzee who won 2 Booker Prizes and a Nobel Prize in Literature and who has written great bodies of work and he’s a recluse. Other people like JD Salinger too) – it got me thinking that is it really, truly, necessary to be open with our work, share our ideas, relinquish our control of the creative process to others when there are people out there who don’t do this anyway. They’ve done everything THE OPPOSITE of what I – and many others – have been espousing – and they still managed to find work and keep creating.
(b) For me, over time, working out loud meant that I improved my skills and practice to the point that the feedback I was seeking from my network had to be more specific, more focused and had to come from people who could make my skills improve to the next level (and realising that my network lacked those skills too). That is, I was put on an ever rotating rollercoaster of realising that the more practiced you become, the more you realised that your networks are too general – so you have to build new networks and spend time creating new relationships with people who may have these skills and it’s a never ending process of searching, learning, building, improving, and repeat the process again. So this made me start to think of (a) again.
Was the reason I was working out loud, really just because I was seeking confirmation or approval by others?
Was this feedback spurring me on to keep working at something? That is, the engagement and the feedback motivated me to work on my projects.
Or did it mean that I wasn’t confident enough in my own abilities to believe in myself that I could do it?
Working out loud also means admitting failure openly and being vulnerable to the scrutiny of others – and what I was seeing is that people simply don’t always want to do this. It’s self-preservation.
So it explains to me the reason why (a) has been the forefront of my mind. (It was also exacerbated by exploring what Microsoft’s Project Cortex is about; receiving a gift of a Google Home Mini by my energy supplier and I vowed NEVER to have these listening devices in my home – okay ignore that I’ve already got an iPhone listening to me); and this whole idea of as things become more open, people are staking a claim to hold back a bit of their identity, privacy and data.
Deep thoughts for me this week.
So as you can see, I’m actually quite torn between the two sides of every story.
For me however, despite having the huge questions in my mind such as:
“If I kept my anonymity – or just worked out loud in small closed groups – and still kept producing, would I have had these opportunities come to me still?”
“Should I stop showing and sharing my work – after all, I’m in my 50s now, it’s time to focus on other things. It’s not about work anymore – it’s about enjoying life, spending time with family, letting the young ones have these opportunities?”
However, I keep coming back to the same thing.
For me working out loud is just a way of life now – it’s how I do things. The blogging, the video, the continual learning, the conversations with my network – is really now just how I work. These blogs are merely conversations to myself. A state of a muddled mind trying to get answers.
I’m like the Carey Bradshaw from Sex and the City but with constant questions of learning and not sex. I’m droning on and on about the same questions and getting no closer to the truth in anything.
However, I do know that there’s not a sense of urgency about it anymore. I think it means that I’ve reached a point where I’m comfortable knowing that whatever I do, it’s going to be okay.
This week, I was asked by Simon Terry to be part of the Working Out Loud series and I agreed after asking if there was anyone else he would rather have as part of the interview series. After all, there are so many people who are doing this in their day-to-day work and may not realise they’re doing it. The questions he sent to me made me think about what working out loud meant to me and touched on how my thinking has changed slightly about it – to the point that I respect that some people are not ready for it. Nor do they want to do this. It’s just not their main driver nor get motivated by it. I get that now.
I mentioned these in the recent #ESNchat too.
Am I anywhere closer to answers about to WOL or not to WOL?
All I know that for me, it’s been the best thing I could have done for myself and building experiences in my life that have provided me opportunities and put me in contact with a wonderful network of people here and overseas. Is it for everyone? Not my call to make but I respect the decision that they make. Have I lost something out of it – a little bit of my own privacy, the ability to hide behind a mask that can give us some respite sometimes? Possibly. I have to wear that now.
Today I did a short video wrapping up these ideas here and now moving onto my next challenge and that is, how do build a community of IT and Change Managers for the Adopt & Embrace Academy.
Videos from the Week
An Introduction to Working Out Loud
Day One Monday 18 November 2019
Day Two Tuesday 19 November 2019
Day Three Wednesday 20 November 2019