Committing Publicly

- 2 mins

I like seeing people perform actions that reflect their words. I like seeing individuals turn into action what they at some point described in words. Words often mean nothing without action.

It’s easy to say that you will do something just for the sake of saying it without actually delivering. I’ve certainly been guilty on that front. With the amount of things I want to learn and do relating to my job, I often myself in the position of starting something and never finishing it. I abandon it for something else that seems more pressing. This leads to paralysis. It’s fine when no one is watching. But is it though?

In this talk, Dan North tells a story of a colleague who wanted to learn Node.js. Instead of going through the standard route of trying to teach himself in his free time, during a meeting he committed on delivering a feature that would be written in Node. He made a public commitment. The pressure was now on him to deliver on his word. His public commitment was almost like an invincible binding agreement. He put many things on the line including the value of his words and commitments.

Last night I was on a video call with a colleague and while screen sharing, he noticed I was looking at the Elixir repository. I mentioned that I was looking for something I could contribute on and how I noticed this issue which I could possibly give a go. I hesitated though and he urged me to make a comment on it saying that I would do it.

I did. For the next few hours I would regret that decision. I wasn’t even sure what I was trying to solve. I told my colleague that I would never listen to him again. The value of my commitment was on the line.

Fast forward to now and I have a small pull request waiting for feedback. I won’t mind at all if this doesn’t even get any attention. I got to explore an area of the language that under normal circumstances I wouldn’t. I got to understand how that pressure helps to focus on a specific goal. I got to deliver something, even small, when normally I would just bail out at the thought of doing something like that.

Public commitment is a powerful tool that I need to use more often. Gracias Felipe for pushing me out of the comfort zone.

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