I wanted to share today something I’ve been dealing with for a few months and inspired by shares from others. For those of you who don’t know the IBM Champion program, in short it was set up to acknowledge the work done by people who contribute to their Community outside of their regular jobs.
When I started as a business partner in the mid 90s the IBM community I was introduced to was full of people interested in IBM technology, wanting to learn and wanting to share what they knew with others for no reason other than they were excited about it and enjoyed seeing others doing the same. In the past 20 years a lot of that has changed and I miss those days. There are still lots of people who share and want to learn but the days of not wanting credit or taking a back seat are often (not always) gone.
I was encouraged and inspired for 20 years by people many of you will have heard of and many of you wouldn’t. Without Andrew Pollack to tell me I was smart enough to learn this stuff and present, or Chris Miller offering to present wtih me or Rocky Oliver encouraging me to write, or Ben Langhinrichs asking the tough business questions about why I don’t charge more, or Carl Tyler giving me no leeway to make excuses, or Paul Mooney who was as enthusiastic about educating as I was and happy to work with me – without those people and many more in Penumbra and further afield I wouldn’t have chosen the path I did. The path that led me to be an IBM Champion and 3 years ago one of the first (along with the amazing Theo Heselmans) IBM Lifetime Champions.
That should have been it right? Validation. The pinnacle of achievement. Confirmation I was doing something right.
I hadn’t allowed for two things. People’s misjudgement and their need to tear you down. Those two things in the past few months have brought me near to walking away.
I’ve learned to trust my judgement and my judgement says when people isolate me and ignore me it’s because they want to cut me out, and I assumed because they didn’t like me. I don’t consider myself that likeable so that’s a reasonable, although sad, explanation. However I have realised in the past few weeks that apparently I am in some sort of competition that I was unaware of: “Don’t let her get involved, she has enough credit”, “Don’t get involved in ideas she has, she has enough credit”. Little comments people have said in passing in my hearing serve to destroy my confidence daily. There have been many of these incidents, all small but incemental.
In a group discussion a few weeks ago I was trying to encourage someone I respect to put themselves forward to be a champion. Another person in the group asked of the group, “Who thinks they deserve to be a champion?” and I, along with the other couple of champions there, put up my hand thinking we were supporting the discussion. This person said, “I don’t. I don’t think any of us do”.
I felt blindsided
I felt awful.
I still feel awful.
Maybe that person was right. In which case the validation I had been accepting and working to deserve was just ego. I didn’t think I had much ego but maybe I do. Maybe that’s what puts people off.
So this is to say to all of you out there:
- Don’t project onto anyone a motive for their actions. Least of all your own. Someone once said to me “well we all present for the applause don’t we”. No. No we don’t. Some of us do it to learn and to help others learn. That’s it.
- Don’t project confidence where none exists. Don’t assume how you see someone is how they see themselves.
- If you’re jealous, own that as your problem. I will put my hand up and admit to in the past being jealous of successful friends (Paul, Rob, Stuart) but that was my problem about where I felt I fell short and I truly hope they never felt the effects of it.
- Don’t try and tear people down to make yourself feel better.
Your comments hurt. your actions or in-actions hurt. You cause hurt.
I wish it was still the mid 90s and we could still be that community that recognised the success of one is the success of all, but that was pre a lot of things and this is where we are now.
I’ll keep doing what I do because that’s the only way I know how to work and because presenting, blogging , sharing, learning, teaching make me happy.