August 20, 2014
On Community Excitement
Open source is a challenging and very interesting space to build a community. There’s a certain amount of excitement derived from being involved in something open source and available to all. There’s also a certain amount of confusion and if you’re not careful there’s a certain amount of conflict. But community excitement is different. It’s catching. It’s fun.
Conflict within a community is not always avoidable and being able to deal appropriately with conflict when it occurs shows the true strength of your community. I’ve written before on effective conflict resolution within a community so I’m not going to repeat any of that advice here but I would rather like to talk about the excitement of working in open source and some of the benefits you’ll experience from life in the engine room of an open source community.
You Learn (a lot)
You’ll learn so many things by being involved in an open source community. You’ll learn more about how to work with other people and share your toys, you’ll learn how to listen to others, you’ll learn how to be successful, you’ll learn more about yourself. And these are just a few ways in which open source communities will help you learn. In case you question the value of continuous learning I’ll drop a quote from a rather famous individual all will recognize and most will respect.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
There is (or should be) no doubt about the power of learning and the benefits of continuing to grow in your learning throughout your life.
You Meet People (a lot)
Now I know you could say the “a lot” part of this section is debatable depending on the size of the community but think about a community of one (yourself) now every other community means you’ll meet a lot of people. And when you meet a lot of people you will find those things you have in common with them. Meeting people, sharing common interests, common likes is yet another benefit from being involved in open source. This in itself is a learning experience as you cross cultural and geographical borders in a common setting.
You have to be able to meet people and greet people. For some this involves coming out of your comfort zone. For others this is second nature, you enjoy the attention and being in the middle of the conversation. Either way you must be friendly, smile and be personable.
“We’re all working together; that’s the secret.”
– Sam Walton
You See Change (a lot)
So my last quick point on exciting things you see by getting in deep within the engine room of a community and become involved with the inner workings and day-to-day aspects of an open source community is related to change. I think a lot hinges on this particular point. If you are deep in a community where there is an aversion to change of any kind and things fail to grow you’ll see a loss of excitement, interest, and motivation. You’ll find stagnation and eventual death. To be honest…that’s not exciting.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
– Winston Churchill
But if you’re in a thriving community you’ll find all types of excitement and growth. There’s little changes happening all the time. Nothing is perfect and there are always ways in which things can be improved and made better. These micro-changes are what keep the excitement level up and make the entire community long-term successful.
Sometimes the changes aren’t micro-changes but macro-changes. Large and sweeping change, sometimes even a pivot is what becomes necessary to make the community a long-term success.
Working in a community is fun. Working deep in the engine room of a community is an incredible rush. It’s a different level of excitement all together. If you have not yet experienced the deeply satisfying experience of working within a community don’t wait. Start today. Find an open source community which you enjoy and dive deep. You’ll find (a lot) of exciting new things and ways in which you will enrich your life.
July 23, 2014
The Buzz (Excitement)
Sometimes the excitement surrounding a new product or idea is so strong it’s almost tangible. I’ve had some incredible experiences but one feeling which never gets old is the buzz. The buzz is my way of describing that super awesome sensation when the goosebumps start to form on my arms and the surrounding air is alive with electricity. I live for that feeling. Sometimes I get teased because I’m so passionate about what I do. But I will not apologize for the energy which motivates me and which may be passed on when we talk.
I already said I won’t apologize for my enthusiasm but I think there is something I’d like to share with you which I’ve learned from my personal experience. I love to chase the things which are important to me. Ask me about small business, ask me about the companies which aren’t in the Fortune 500 but have to try to compete with them. I’ve talked to business owners and heard the stories of being unable to adequately represent their skills because of budget or revenues. It’s simply not right. Businesses should succeed based on their skills and their abilities to complete the job best. When barriers unrelated to the job keep the little guy from being adequately represented I get upset. I’ve felt these personal obstacles intimately and have experienced the rejection based on factors completely unrelated to the job. It’s infuriating. Are my feelings clearly on display? I think so. Now that you understand a bit about my passion and where my interest lies maybe you can relate.
I know the common phrase is “Do what you love, love what you do.” There is some real truth in those words. If the feelings I’ve described above are unfamiliar to you and perhaps you don’t relate to the sensations I have shared then I have a question for you. What are you doing?
If you don’t have that goosebump raising excitement when you talk about what you are doing then why are you doing it? If you’re just doing a job to do a job I can certainly relate. The need to pay the bills is a strong one. You can’t pay your rent with a feeling. But here’s the point. Don’t get so lost in the day to day struggle that you live without passion. Make sure you continue fighting for what you truly love. Find those things which you are passionate about and keep your focus on chasing your dreams.
I have to tell you there is nothing that feels the same as when you follow your dreams, and get to share it with others. I’ve been incredibly blessed to be able to begin sharing my passion and my big ideas with others. The response has been incredible and every single interaction just confirms what I have thought quietly (and not so quietly) for so many years. If you’ve got questions, ideas, or just want someone to share your ideas with I would love to hear them. If you work in small business then I definitely want to talk with you. We can share struggles, share successes and help each other grow. When I end my posts with the phrase, “We’re all in this together!” I mean it with my whole heart. We share in our fight to succeed and I love to connect with you. I get incredible motivation from those moments and many times it provides me with the energy I need when I’m feeling down or discouraged.
I’ll leave you with this. Do you have the buzz? Do you live with the passion and excitement and desire to share your heart with others? Do those experiences electrify the air around you? If you don’t find yourself empowered and alive doing what you do, then take a moment and re-evaluate where you are and where you’re going. If you’re unsure what I mean by “the buzz” then please feel free to ask me, give me a call, talk to me, and let me share with you what I’m passionate about. I’d love to share my excitement with you and I’d love to help you find your own.