I’m noticing a trend among technical professionals, and it’s somewhat chilling. The perception that sharing accomplishments, experiences, and background value is somehow not being humble. In a few cases, those that do offer up information on themselves are given a negative vibe or called out.
Being humble equates to understanding your relative importance in the grand scheme of things. Using The Total Perspective Vortex (see: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is one way to do this, although I don’t have one handy. The reality is that we’re all on a personal and technological journey, and that the vast majority of what we’ve learned has been built upon the work of others. This is just fine, and remembering it is important.
But, as I stated in my Professional Career Lessons from Networking Analogies post, finding professionals who can answer questions and act as your career default gateway for various skills is vital. This means that I need to know what challenges you’ve experienced and techniques you’ve honed in order to understand how we can work together. Stating such background information is perfectly humble and, quite frankly, of immense value. How else would I know what I can or cannot ask the person, outside of playing 20 Questions to narrow in on an answer?
A similar world exists when working with channel partners, manufacturers, and vendors. Neither the customer nor the folks they are working with can assume knowledge – assumptions are risk prone in any design – and it’s good to set the table to figure out where everyone is at from a background and skills perspective. This can be done in a humble way, of course, as “I’ve installed 100 units of Product X” tells me that the person is highly experienced with Product X and I can pick their brain on pitfalls, tricks, and tips. Saying that “I’m the best in the world, as I’ve installed 100 units of Product X while others fail miserably to the sound of my laughter” also tells me that you’re highly experienced, but doesn’t check the humble box. Plus, this fictitious person sounds like a jerk. 🙂
Sharing your experiences also help you find people who are looking for mentors. In Show 21 of the Datanauts Podcast, entitled How To Beat Skills Entropy, VCDX-DCV Eric Shanks speaks about his career journey and finding people to add within his inner circle as mentors. He pings these people for advice and guidance. This requires sharing what has been learned and what has been done. I recall meeting Eric many years back at a partner event and sharing what we’d both done within our company data centers. I learned that he had experience with NetApp storage arrays – which I also had – so that we could geek out on that topic and become friends over common experiences. Throughout our discussion, Eric remained humble; he was telling me what he had done, but not making a “big deal” about it.
Just remember – never be afraid of sharing what you’ve done and being proud of good, quality work. Being humble is a mindset that you still have more to learn, more to do, and many great people left in your life to meet and learn from.