The following blog post inspired by this tweet.
— jlottosen (@jlottosen) November 4, 2013
I’ve had my ups and downs. In life, career and business. Haven’t we all?
When something gives you a hard knock it can be so hard to keep going. Sometimes things just don’t work out. And it can hurt so much. The love and enthusiasm can be lost. And it can be so easy to give up, run away and never come back. Especially when you’ve had a bad day, week, month or year. And even more so (in relation to business) when not (enough) money is being made.
Sometimes it’s not that things go bad, but things just aren’t moving as fast or in quite the right direction as you would like. Sometimes you can be doing great things, but you get no or minimal feedback that you are. This can make it hard to evaluate whether you are doing a ‘good job’ or not.
Sometimes you think you want something, but the reality isn’t really what you want.
Sometimes you want something, go down a path and discover a whole new love for something else.
For me, whatever I’m doing, I want to shine a light on my world. I believe the things I’m doing are positive for the people around me. I believe I can make a positive impact. I can. I can. I can.
I always want to know if I am making a difference, to someone, somewhere.
How Do I Make A Difference?
Sometimes it is hard to know whether I make a difference because people don’t go out of their way to tell me, until there is a reason to. Sure, I can measure things to a certain extent through data (e.g. web traffic, social media networks, people talking about us, etc), but it sure helps to see a story happen which may have something to do with the work that you do.
Here are some recent examples from my work:
- I send out some free stickers: the result is not only thank you for the stickers, but thank you for the work that I am doing and how it has made a positive difference to individual testers.
- I meet a tester at a meetup or conference: I don’t always know who they are, but they know me and they say thank you. They talk to me about stuff that shows they read what we produce over at Software Testing Club and Ministry of Testing, but perhaps just as interesting is that they follow other aspects of my life. My personal blog (what you are reading now). And my unschooling blog. So in fact, I can see I am making a difference not only in the testing world, but my more personal efforts are being listened to too.
- we publish something (often something that some awesome tester has written or helped us create): there are shares and retweets which is obviously nice. Within this is an occasional and more thoughtful comment, blog post or email saying ‘thank you… I have some feedback/questions/ideas..’.
Sure, these are nice examples. But they don’t happen everyday (and this is not a plea for praise!)
Chasing For Feedback
On the other side is chasing for feedback. I know I need to get better at this.
- Are people finding jobs through the job board we host? Surely if they are, then I’m making a difference.
- How are people benefiting from the software testing community?
- How have people benefited from the articles and resources we collate and produce?
I need to get better at this. It takes time and effort and is one of those things that often gets pushed to the back of the line when work and life take over.
Self Doubt Always Kicks In
I’m often full of self doubt. Am I doing the right thing? What will people think about this? Do people actually care? Am I making the right kind of difference?
Feedback matters, no matter how big or small. It helps validate your life’s work. But perhaps more importantly is the internal satisfaction and happiness. Are you working towards what you want? Are you making yourself happy? Are you creating the right kind of difference that matters to you?
There is no point, in the name of ‘making a difference’, being miserable just to please everyone else. At least in Rosie Land, there is no point 🙂