Expert — 6 Letters That Terrified Me
In 2022, I’m focusing on becoming an expert in Jira. I could have picked anything in the world, but for the immediate future, Jira is going to be something I’m going to be focusing my time on. Many consider me an expert in Jira. I have dozens of clients that rely on me to help them fix their Jira problems. But, even though I spend 12–14 hours a day, using Jira, learning Jira, being curious about Jira, am I really an expert?
I wanted to write a little about what it means to be an expert. You see, one of my focuses this year to really make an impact on the Atlassian Jira community. I do want to establish myself as an expert and help fix problems for teams all over the world. Except, I have a small problem. . . really, a big problem. Am I really an expert? Especially when it comes to talking about Agile with respect to Jira?
These last couple weeks, I’ve been planning out how the content that I’ll be producing for the Jira community over the next few months. And, just when I thought I had gotten over my imposter syndrome, I have a sudden realization that I am no expert. Normally, this would completely crush me and I would give up on this journey, but it’s 2022 and 2021 taught me a lot. So, this time, I’m not giving up. Instead, I plan on embracing the fact that I’m not a complete expert in Jira. I am very skilled in the tool, know how to utilize the tool to help companies deliver their projects, and most importantly, I know how to make Jira work for whatever business case a team has.
The current situation I’m facing is that I’m scared to publish content. I’m scared that I’m going to give out the wrong advice or that maybe I just don’t understand how to do something well when compared to other “experts”. But, I gave this some thought and I think I can turn this fear into something positive.
The first thing I need to do is just publish my content. Confidently, I know my stuff. I’ve worked with over fifty teams, all with different objectives. I’ve been exposed to a lot of different factors that give me a unique. . .ish view of how to effectively configure and use Jira to help teams deliver value to their customers. I am confident that whatever content I put out isn’t going to be something I make up out of thin air. It’s going to be based on my personal observations over my last five years of using the tool almost daily and working with teams all over the world.
With that said, the second thing I’m going to do is to just create content. I need to learn to embrace that not everyone is going to agree with me. People may have different ideas or tactics. But, what scares me is that I might ruin my reputation as a Jira expert. Maybe, but maybe I’ll become a better Jira expert by learning what others are doing. Maybe I can help shed some light on someone else that might consider themselves an expert. In the end, I think that if I don’t put out content, I just hurt myself and the community. I know I’m not going to be able to please everyone. I know that not everyone is going to agree with my content. And, for the time being, I think that’s okay. I have to keep an open mind and an open heart. The internet can be a very scary place, and it’s taken me years to gain enough confidence to finally just put myself out there.
The third and final thing I’m going to do is, is I’m going to produce content that is outside of my comfort zone. If I only make content that I consider myself an “expert” in, I’ll never grow. I need to be able to learn something new, put my unique perspective on it and publish it. Then, if someone challenges it, I need to be able to take that constructive criticism, and make the appropriate pivots. This is the only way that I’ll get better. It’s just scary that I’m going to be doing this publicly.
There may be a bloodbath. People may absolutely hate my content. But, the opposite might happen as well. I may be able to really help someone out there. I’ve been doing Atlassian / Jira consulting for the last seven months and every single client is grateful for the expertise I’ve brought to the table. Every single client has complimented me on a great job and their teams/projects have yielded better results with Jira because of my knowledge. I have to use this positivity as fuel and as a shield because the world I’m about to enter might be a treacherous one.
With all that said, I just wanted to write this to express my concerns and fear of producing technical content when you label yourself as an expert. So far, I have no evidence to suggest that people are going to hate my content. In fact, everyone I’ve engaged with since I started a few weeks ago has been extremely supportive. But, I write this because I’ve been burned before. I’ve put out some cybersecurity content in which “experts” in those areas didn’t necessarily agree with. And this makes it challenging for people that aren’t confident with their skills. For full disclosure, I do believe I am very confident in my Jira skills. Where I think I’m going to struggle a bit is going to be with Agile/Scrum topics. I wrote a post at the beginning of 2021 talking about gate keepers and their lack of empathy. I do believe as my content starts blurring the lines between Jira and Agile, I’m going to encounter more folks that have very strong opinions about the “right way of doing agile”. And I just have to be okay with it. I have to learn how to react to those folks and I have to be prepared to share my point of view and adjust if necessary. I may make mistakes, but my plan is to share content, listen to the community and adjust accordingly. I think that in doing this, I’ll not only help myself, but I’ll help the entire internet community by taking extreme ownership, showing empathy, and then sharing even more content.
What are your thoughts? What do you think being an expert in something means? Are you allowed to be wrong about things? Or are you expected to know everything if you call yourself an expert?