Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Centre of Attention

The snow has finally gone from Michigan and the youth soccer season has started - which means it's time for me to flap the cobwebs out of my flags and blow the dust out of my whistle and get out there and ref some games.

Worry not, dear reader, this is not going to be a "refereeing a footy game is like testing..." analogy post.

One of the books I've been reading is Quiet: The Power of Introverts" as I am a quiet person.
I'm also shy - and like many people I confused the two, being shy and being an introvert are not the same thing, the book has helped with my understanding of the differences and myself.

So as a shy and introverted person why do I want to make myself the centre of attention by standing in the middle of a soccer pitch, trying to control 12 kids running around with parents and coaches ready to criticize every decision I make?
( Oh, yeh, I also have 2 linesmen every game to meet and talk to, introduce myself to the coaches and team manager )

Why not stay at home with a good book?

The answer is for the same reasons I attend Tester Gatherings and Meetups. Once a month I go off to the GR Testers Meetup and there's usually at least one new face there. A couple of months ago I was standing in front of 40 Michigan testers doing a lightning talk. Why not stay at home and carry on working my way through my copy of Tacit and Explicit Knowledge and do my connecting with people by sending out some tweets ?

The Quiet book has an explanation with the story of Professor Brian Little, a winner of the 3M Teaching Fellowship whose classes at Harvard were oversubscribed and often had him breaking into song and twirling about onstage like a cross between Robin Williams and Albert Einstein.
Doesn't sound like the behaviour of an introvert?

But he was very much so, living out in remote Canadian woods with just his wife. The books tells of how he had to give two lectures at a Royal Military College with lunch inbetween. Lunch though was his recharging time so he invented an excuse that he was interested in ship design and wanted to spend his lunchtime looking at boats on the nearby river. This worked but then the location moved to a place not near water - so he went off and hid in the bathroom during lunchtime so he could get his much needed quiet time.

Why put himself through this though? The Professor came up with a theory he called Free Trait Theory - where we can and do act out of character in the service of "core personal projects". Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important.

I've played footy ( soccer ) most of my life, coached my daughters soccer team and she is still playing. I made friends through it and have many good memories out of it. The legs though are getting too old to get me through 90 minutes so moving onto being an official seemed a good way to give something back to the game and help the new generation discover The Beautiful Game. Plus moving to a new country it might give me the opportunity to meet people and make new friends.

Same with testing - moving to testing from programming got my enthusiasm going again, made me new friends which ultimately led to new opportunities. Arranging and going to tester meetups and encouraging new testers to connect and talk is my way of giving something back.

And doing both of these (reffing and tester events) also helps with my confidence and gives me practice in overcoming my shyness.

The Quiet book is highly recommended, another post from that coming up soon.

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