First Post: Control Your Inner Skeptic, Take The Plunge And Just Do It
The idea for this blog came across my mind over a year ago. For months now I have been writing this first post in my head without bringing it to life. So why didn’t it happen earlier? Good question — like with every good story we should start at the beginning.
My name is Amit Goldshmidt and I am a software engineer and manager — currently leading number of software teams. I am married to my (a bit after) high-school (definitely) sweetheart, and we have a son who is 7 months old.
I know for a fact that I started thinking about the idea of writing a blog over a year ago because it happened soon after my wife told me that we are pregnant (let’s face it — it’s mostly she, but I like to think I was part of it) .
My thoughts were: “Wow — this is something major that I am going to experience, why not write my thoughts about becoming and being a parent, and while I am at it — why not share my thoughts about management and everything in between”.
Sounds good, right? It even sparked my creativity and soon after I had the idea to dedicate the first post to describe the process I went through with myself while deciding to create a blog.
So what happened? Why it took over a year?
First of all skepticism came in and started to seed doubt in my mind.
One of my team members once said in a lecture he did in our company that every one of us has a skeptic inside, that prevents us from pursuing what we want, and it is important to learn how to control this inner skeptic in order to progress, achieve our goals, and maybe even fulfill our dreams.
Good thing we hire smart people, I couldn’t agree more.
Here is how the conversation between my inner skeptic and my inner initiator looked like as part of my thought process:
*WTF — W-one of the WH questions, T — The, F — I guess you can figure out for yourself — this inner skeptic is not very polite…
“WTF do you think you are? WTF would anyone read what you have to write?”
”I am writing a blog first and for most for myself. It’s a way to organize and express my thoughts in a way that will help me grow and improve myself in my family life, my job and hopefully in every other aspect of my life. It might not be read by anyone, this for sure will be disappointing, but at least I have expressed and ordered my thoughts and it hopefully helped me improve and grow. If it will be read by people it will be a great success, and if by any chance it will even help someone who reads it — it’s a dream come true”
“OK, so you will write a blog but WTF about management?
You only manage 5 people (at the time) — WTF now?
WTF not wait until you gain at least 10 years of management experience?”
“Well, this is a good question. I am humble enough to recognize that the skeptic side has a point. I have only about 5 years of management experience in only 2 places of work, so I am sure I have more than enough to learn. I am sure this will always be true. On the other hand, I really truly believe that everyone has the ability to contribute others, no matter who he or she is. Experience is a very important aspect of what we have to offer, but nevertheless other factors like passion, motivation, way of thought, and talent are also a great part of it. I hope that my way of thinking and describing things will make sense to others, and even if not — again I am doing it first of all for myself and as part of my own journey”
“OK, so I get the management part, but parenting?
The baby is not even here yet (at the time this was the case)!!! and WTF is this nonsense about connecting between parenting and management???”
“The truth is that this concern is valid, at the time I was only able to wear the ‘expecting’ badge and frankly my wife had most of the rights and wore it most of the time.
The reason I thought about sharing what I have in mind about parenting is that I thought then and still think so now, that parenting is probably the most extreme form of management. I read and discussed about quite a few analogies that managers use to describe most of their role as managers, and the ones who I most appreciated took the analogy of parenting.
Of course, it’s not the same, now that I am a parent myself I know for sure, but I think that good managers care about their teams and the people they lead, want the best for them and work for their success almost as much as they do for their family and even for their children. Again the limits are obvious, but if you look at good managers and take the essence of what they do and why they do it, you will find aspects that are similar to what can be defined as good parenting (now that I am a 7 months veteran). The reverse direction works for me as well — A lot of what I apply that works for me as a manager I try to apply with my family life and hopefully will apply with my son — can’t wait for those morning DSMs when he will start standing straight.
Even if you don’t like the analogy whatsoever, you will probably agree that there are things in common, so I want to share my thoughts and put a spotlight on where I see the two correlate. After all I am a parent at home and a manager at work, so both are part of me and my thoughts”
“Last question: WTF English? Why not write in your native language — Hebrew? All of the people that are going to read this are people you will send them the link and ask them to read it — so WTF bother?”
“First of all, thanks for the vote of confidence… I believe that I shouldn’t limit myself when I approach things. Yes it will be easier to write in Hebrew, and it might even produce a better outcome when I won’t have to break my teeth, or the keyboard in this case, to try and express myself, but I do not want to limit myself. If I am doing this — I want to do it right, and doing it right means that it should be written in a language that will provide the potential for what I write to be available to the largest audience of readers. In addition I like the fact that it will be a bit harder, if it’s harder I will have more to gain as part of the process”
By now you are probably thinking:
“This was a very long ‘inner discussion’ but it couldn’t have lasted a year, so what happened since?”
Well, as it often does — life happened.
Time — I tried to find the right time, the right weekend, the right hour of the day. At the time I thought that I don’t have enough time.
Now — 1 baby and about 6 more people that are part of my concerns, I understand that I had all the time in the world, and a year from now I will probably look back on today and think I was a ‘free agent’. we are always short of time and will probably always be.
Muse / Writing mode — If you are a manager you know how hard it is to switch from what I call the “survival mode” where you have a lot of short but important tasks to complete, and get into what I call the “deep mode” where you have to get into depth of coding, designing or… writing a blog post. I constantly battle to find ways to incorporate time of “deep mode” activities, in a reality that gets more and more complex with meetings, interviews, 1:1 and what is probably the most important thing but often gets the least amount of time- family.
This can be a great post for the future, but we were heading to the point….
I will try to demonstrate what I was trying to say all along with a story:
While I traveled in South America, I tried bungee jumping. Most of the Israelis who visit Cusco (Peru) try the bungee jumping experience from a height of about 120 meters, so there is nothing special about it. What was a bit special for me is that I am very shaky when it comes to heights, some might call it scared of heights. My way of confronting this, was plane old denial: I blocked any thought of the fact that I am going to jump all the week prior to the the “D-day”. Even when we got on the taxi that drove us there, I focused my thoughts on just getting to our destination, nothing further. When we finally got there I asked my friends to let me go first because if I won’t, I will probably won’t do it at all. This methodology continued while going up the lift and asking the guide if we are close to the top . His response was that we are only half way there, so I told him that I will probably need him to push me. He replied: “no way — you will step on the platform, I will count 1–2–3 and you will jump — just don’t look down”. We got to the height of the jump; I stepped on the platform — the guide counted 1–2- and before he said 3 I was out, I took the plunge.
The truth is that I didn’t really enjoy it, and I am not sure I will do it again.
So why do it, you might ask?
I really love the fact that I was able to decide something a week in advance and manage to jump when I needed even though I was scared as shit — sometimes you have to not over think it, “just do it” and take the plunge.
So what made it happen eventually, why today?
A combination of a couple of factors:
Frustration, Timing, and dumb luck
I have built up frustration, because I really wanted for this blog and first post to take shape a long time ago, but life and every other excuse in the book prevented me from making it happen. The fact that I didn’t make it happen made me feel like I talk the talk in the things I want to help the people I lead, but don’t walk the walk in my own path. So I want to clear this frustration and just do it — just write it.
Timing is everything — in 2 days I will be celebrating my 30th birthday, and as part of my reflections about ending a decade and starting a new one I thought that I owe it to myself to create the blog before I turn 30.
So why Dumb Luck?
As I write these lines I was supposed to be interviewing and the interview got canceled at the last minute. I had this kind of cancellations in the past, but together with the other two factors above I decided to take the plunge, find a quit room and turn it into reality.
So maybe what can be learned from my first post is how I didn’t “Just do it”, but guess what — I just did. Better late than never.