I recently changed the focus of my business. I went from being a Software Developer/Consultant to an Educator. What do I mean by educator? Well, I'm in the business of providing courses; I'm currently tutoring a friend on Ruby and Ruby on Rails; and I'm developing a Ruby on Rails on site course (this one in Spanish).
That said, I didn't start this journey alone. The step I took right before that was becoming what Avdi Grimm calls the TYPIST for Ruby Tapas. What's a TYPIST? it's just a fancy name for the one who records the video for the screencasts. This position, along with the invaluable guidance of Avdi, gave me a great amount of insight in what it takes to produce video products. Of course that I'm far from being an expert at this point, but I'm striving to getting there as soon as possible.
After a few months of TYPING for Ruby Tapas, Avdi and I talked about collaborating on a project. This projects was basically a course (which will be out soon enough).
That talk marked the beginning of a new path for my career, one I'm very happy of following (thanks Avdi!).
Ok, what does all this has to do with the title of the post? A lot, actually.
After one defines the contents of a course, the first step to follow is to start drafting scripts. The deal is: I draft the script, Avdi corrects it and I finish it.
Drafting sounds easy, but not all of us are great writers by nature. And to this we need to add that English is not my first language. That said, on the first couple of weeks I drafted the whole course. And I was pretty proud of myself. It takes a great mind to write an entire course in a matter of a couple of weeks (or at least that's how I saw it in my mind).
But then, the moment arrived: the first corrections came in. I took a look at them and, to be completely honest, my ego was severely crushed. I looked at a diff between the draft and the corrected version and it was savage! Corrections on almost every line. The only parts that had survived were the code snippets.
At that point I sat down with one thought on my mind: "Maybe I'm not made for this".
Have you ever had that feeling? The pride of having something perfect and right after that, the realization that it was far from it?
Don't get me wrong, Avdi was as gentle as a person could be when correcting other people's work.
And of course, the corrections where right. It's also important to notice that Avdi didn't just corrected the script, he took the time to add notes to every single change he made, explaining why the change was relevant and what was the train of thought that lead to the modification.
Luckily, the story didn't end here. If it did, I wouldn't be writing it. After my sad thought, I decided to go out for a walk. I needed to shake the frustration out of my system. And in that walk, the most beautiful realization came to my mind. Before I tell you, I feel the need to say that it's probably an obvious one for most people. But this article is aimed at all of you who have those sad thoughts after a fall and stop there (as I used to do).
The realization came like this:
You decided to partner with Avdi because you already knew you weren't a good writer and you wanted to learn. Don't you realize that this so called defeat was actually your greater success yet? Everything written in those notes scattered all over the scripts is exactly what you where looking for. It's gold dust. Take advantage of it. Learn, move on, GROW UP!
The next thing I did was sending Avdi an email thanking him and asking him to keep up with the corrections.
What I took from this experience, and I hope you take as well, is that we need to keep our ego in check. You might feel badly when someone corrects you (and that's completely fine, and part of our personality), but you need to cool down and see through it. Once you learn how to accept it, you'll find out that you're standing on a gold mine.
I hope this story helps you see defeat with different eyes. It's certainly difficult, but it's worth experiencing.
See you around.