Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life...

I'm really late blogging today due to work commitments. I hate when work gets in the way of fun.

I had to give a co-presentation today on a software product I've been working with. I'm not terribly fond of speaking in public or even speaking in front of a group but, over time, it's become easier. It really helps when you know what you're talking about. The more you speak, the easier it gets, this I've learned.

Unless, of course, it's your first product demonstration for the company that fairly recently hired you and the company president decides to sit in. Then...all common sense and experience goes out the window and you turn into a stuttery bag of nerves.

This is what happened to me. I know the product, I know how it works. One of my special skills is that I can talk both technical speak and user speak which translates to me helping normal people figure out what the technical jargon means. I'm usually pretty confident when I'm talking about something I know well. I enjoy it.

Today, I didn't. Today, I feel like I just want a nice big sandpit in which to bury my head. It was ok except when I'm nervous, I talk too fast. I have a British accent. Combine the two and you realize I'm a little incomprehensible when I first start talking. That wears off quickly: I slow down, I relax...I'm doing ok.

Then...the software blows up on me. I'm supposed to be showing it to a client to try to persuade them to buy it doesn't work. Our server crashes. The demo has suddenly gone from organized and controlled to a frenzy of disorganized chaos. I managed to recover but the damage was done. Not only did I show a weakness in our product but I got flustered in front of my boss.

So, now it's all over, I'm having the typical "may I go jump off a cliff?" reaction I always get when I don't do my best. I like to be good at things. I like to prove that I am good at things. I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to criticism- I'm harsher on myself than I ever am on others. I'm not good at what I deem failure, even if it's not really a failure. I like to be good at things. The problem is, there are some things I'm just not good at.

I always hated realizing that as a child, much as I do now. If I was interested in something, I wanted to be good at it. I loved watching gymnastics when I was little, I loved watching Nadia Comaneci. I took gymnastics, practiced when I could but the sad fact of the matter was I wasn't very good. I had that built-in fear of hurting myself that the best athletes seem to lack. I was cautious. I couldn't do a fancy vault because I would stop myself for fear of falling. I had to realize there were limits to the "You Can Do Anything!" encouragement that I heard.

There are many other things in my life that I've realized for which I will never reach above an average level of expertise. Mostly, I'm ok with this. Yet I've always wanted one thing, one defined thing in my life that I am good at, that I can do without fear of failing, without fear that everyone will laugh at me when I fail.

I'd like to say that's writing which is why I don't take rejection well. I'm not sure that's true though. I adore writing, it's easy for me to do. It's something I don't have to think about. I can throw words together and come out with a product much like a chef does with ingredients. But...I don't know if I am any good at it. I suppose it's all relative on who is judging us really, isn't it?

Yet it is the thing that I'm most comfortable with. It's the security blanket I turn to. This is probably why I'm using it to come to terms with the fact I feel like I blew my demo today. Chances are, I really didn't feels like it because I know I screwed up.

Yet, as always, if I take a step back, I realize it was my first one. I realize that having the software break meant I'd found a bug that we can fix before we release it. I know I'm good at finding bugs because I'm good at breaking software. That I know I'm good at. I just wish I hadn't found the bug in front of a potential client. Or in front of my boss. But I didn't get fired so...always look on the bright side, right?

Happy Wednesday.

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