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Just Show Up.

2012/04/19

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

“Ninety eight percent of all statistics are made up.”  – Author Unknown

“There’s only one way to make a beginning, and that is to begin” – Jack London

Context: You are bored, stagnating, or feeling undernourished in your personal or professional life. Even for individuals fortunate enough to have a career in software development, it can happen.

Problem: You want to change some aspect of your life, to learn and to grow, but you are uncertain and or stressed over how, or what the next step might be, or what the process is, or where to start or whether you might be over-thinking it…

Solution: Consider something you’ve been interested in recently, or may have enjoyed in the past (reading, cycling, web development, etc.) and find a group of people nearby who are doing that thing. If you feel like you haven’t been reading enough, find a book club. Want to learn guitar? Find an open mic night. Curious about Javascript? The pattern is as simple as it seems.

In healthy, supportive (software) communities, even introverts should find a comfortable environment where they can listen and learn as people meet, share knowledge, and build their respective support networks. See what people are talking about, get ideas, learn new practices, maybe even Find Mentors to help you grow. (They will benefit too, teaching is a great way to learn.)

If you decide that your new skill, group, or practices are not helping you attain the value you sought, or you feel more compelled to try some other more worthwhile activity, do it. Move on. Hopefully the last time you showed up at something it removed some of the fear or discomfort (especially for socially awkward penguins,) and from now on it will be easier to repeat the process of finding a community and deciding whether to participate in it. It’s possible, perhaps even likely that you will enter the next stage of your journey having made some new friends and learned new things in the last one.

The ultimate goal of Just Showing Up is to leave a state of inaction for one of action. It is often challenging; the distance from nothing to something (0 to 1, for example) is potentially infinite. Overcoming a theoretically infinite amount of inertia is daunting, and can be overwhelming.

However, it has been my experience that once you learn to let go of your fear or whatever holds you back (another lifelong process,) the pace of learning and growth accelerate rapidly and interesting opportunities & experiences take shape which would have been previously unfathomable.

Action: Decide on a new hobby, activity, or technology. Find a local community of people interested in the same thing, and attend their next meeting. Find Mentors, Rub Elbowsmeet Kindred Spirits. You can do it. Now, go on.

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