This month, Shane O'Neill (@SOZDBA) challenges us to write about the "cookie jar" that we reach into to re-energise, to give us back confidence when we're feeling empty of it. He says we all have times of success that we look back upon to help convince ourselves that we can get through our current difficulties. Past achievements that signal that we can still achieve today.
Hi, my name is Rob Farley, and I'm not that person.
For me, this isn't how life works. I don't look back at times that I've been successful and therefore assume that things will be okay going forward. I've had enough experience to be confident that my past successes are no guarantee of anything in the future. I remember a time in my life when job interviews seemed to go well – I felt quite hireable – and yet not so long afterwards I couldn't seem to get through an interview at all. If I went in on strength from past experiences, that wasn't enough for a while, and my experiences then changed and became a negative influence on my thought-patterns.
From a technical perspective, I've had to learn that the ways that things were done in the past are no indication of how they will happen in the future, and again I find myself looking at past experiences and realising they have no bearing. Just because I knew something about a particularly technology some years ago doesn't mean that I'll have the faintest clue next time that area comes up, because I could just as likely find that my past patterns demonstrate that I'm now simply archaic.
Luckily, this isn't how I work either.
I don't look back at achievements and base my opinion of the future on that. Nor do I look at other people's achievements and base my opinion of their future on that. I'd rather look at myself, or at the qualities of other people, to make those judgement calls.
If I put my confident hat on, I know that I'm good. I'm not overly comfortable saying that. I'm naturally self-deprecating, and concerned about the self-worth of other people, and find that I have to figuratively put on a different hat to make those kinds of statements. It feels like it's bordering on arrogance, except that arrogance implies that I'm devaluing those around me. Really it's just self-assurance. Knowing that I will be able to beat whatever the thing is that I'm going through. And I don't feel always feel it, I just have to decide that I'm going to get up in the morning anyway.
I know I'm good in that I can solve whatever technical thing I'm given. I've always had that ability. Sometimes solving something might need me to ask others for help, but I'm okay with that. Sometimes solving something may be the decision to not do various things, maybe finding a workaround instead. But I'm not afraid of technical things.
I'm not afraid of new experiences. I did stand-up comedy a few years ago, and it was good. I don't mean that I was funny – I mean that the experience was generally positive. Public speaking is nerve-racking, but if the alternative is to not do it, then I'd be worse off.
I am afraid of hurting people, and will choose to avoid those things that I think will tread on people, or subject people to unnecessary risk. In that regard, maybe I'm not much of a risk-taker. I can step out over an edge, but will hold back if the person with me doesn't want to go for that journey.
I have no problem looking at the past and seeing things that I've achieved, but I don't value those things as much as the achievements of other people. I'm immensely proud of the people I've been able to help along their journey, but I don't look back at particular presentations or blog posts or projects with a sense of pride – that's reserved for the things that make other people smile.
For my own "cookie jar", I stand on who I am, on who God says I am, and figure that I can get through somehow. Not because I have done in the past, but because I will in the future.