As an agile coach with experience in the startup community, there is no greater way to learn than by just doing it. That was the advice Seth Godin gave me last December. The only way people will know you are an expert at something, he said, is if you tell them. It challenged me, because I wondered if I had what it took.
Mobile technology was not only my work, it fascinated me on a daily basis. It was lean by definition, which melded nicely with me being a scrum coach. I wondered if agile and mobile could be written about in the same space. So, off I went.
Over 200 posts later, both are experiencing growth in the technology industry, so it’s been fun to watch it play out. I am not sure if I am an expert at either subject, but writing for a year, has taught me a ton.
I learned to lead with transparency. How often have you found yourself reading the thoughts of a person you hardly know anything about? Not that you have to personally know me to take my posts seriously, but your voice needs to contain pieces of who you are for your words to resonate with readers. The easiest way is to be transparent.
Granted, leading is the difficult part. When I coach my teams and peers, transparency is one of the most difficult and productive ways to lead. You must, of course, encourage others by first demonstrating it. When business leaders speak of “leading” transparency, they are referring to the fact that all great leaders demonstrate the trait. To do that, you must be the first to initiate transparency. I have found that the more I write with transparency, the more I lead with it.
I learned being an expert means collaborating with others. There have been many times in my career that I was all alone with my ideas. I was either the only person in my subject area at the time, or in a remote location where I couldn’t easily discuss what was going on. In both situations, it was up to me to reach out to others for validation. When someone wanted to know how I felt about the field of mobile technology or agile development methodology, I simply pointed them to chrismurman.com and asked them to let me know what they thought.
Not only did it lead to a wealth of information in the form of conversations, but others got to know me in a unique way. My current boss at Bottle Rocket, who I met through LinkedIn, had access to all the information he needed on Chris Murman. When a spot opened up on his team, the relationship we had formed made his call simple. This post by Ryan Hoover emphasizes this point by stating a blog is the new resume.
I also learned my writing improves my work. There have been days where my wife wasn’t happy about my blogging. Pesky things like “family time” and “connecting” were getting put aside because I needed to crank out one more post. Eventually, though, she learned that sacrifices just needed to be made. Hashtag sarcasm.
In all seriousness, it’s hard to commit to writing every week. When I first started, I wanted to post every day. With this being my 213th post, I did not succeed, but what I established is a habit. There are some habits that are necessary, such as brushing your teeth. Others, like writing your thoughts on a regular basis, helps you to think. That translates to better thoughts on what I want to accomplish during work hours, and my conversations are structured well.
If I am willing to post the thought online, you can bet I have thought it out to the best of my ability. When the same subject comes up at work, I can easily articulate my point and seem more authoritative. Doing that about one subject per week is 52 well-established thoughts that can improve your work. Imagine if you did two or three a week!
Take the same challenge I took a year ago. It can improve your thought process personally and professionally. It’s an effort well worth the sacrifice. What would you like a year of writing to teach you?