Learning to drive (navigating helpful)

mdouglass

This is a reflective post about the Mozilla Summit.

Today was a hard day for me.  And, the fact that I live to tell you all about it means I’ve likely learned something as a result.  Here’s what I think it was/is …figuring out how to drive (own) a project at Mozilla is not unlike learning to drive a car:

  1. At first, you are so excited about the opportunity, the freedom, the unknown something that will most certainly bring you social-status, praise, beauty, riches.
  2. You read the books, look at cars new and old, talk with your parents and friends about what’s it’s like to drive, dream of your adventure, confident you can totally handle it.
  3. Then, you get into a car for the first time and realize, “Wait, I have absolutely no idea what all of this stuff is or how to use it – and I could fail.  And everyone could know.”   Panic.

You need help.  Real help, like from other humans who know how to drive a car, folks who’ve been driving for years.  You are still the one learning to drive the car yes, but you need someone to sit beside you in the vacant parking lot where you can jerk and lurch and roll and sputter and stall.  You need someone to show you how to turn the darn wipers off.

But that maybe all you need.  Or maybe you don’t know how much more help you’ll need later.  The point is, being brave enough to ask for help in a specific, direct way (and, even more brave, being clear when you don’t need help) is part of learning how to drive – it’s part of doing anything new.

What I learned this week, mostly today, was that Mozillians have the most lovely, caring, positive intent when offering to help.  This community cares so deeply about itself that it can, at times, feel overwhelming.  I am learning to drive at Mozilla and I need help sometime.  And because I’m the one driving, I need to be clear where and when I need it (and it’s okay that I don’t always know).

Onward!