NaBloPoMo #5

I have become the person who, at unconferences with government folk, bangs on about Wardley maps. Who every single time pitches ‘Mapping 101’. It’s now become so rote that I jokingly, not jokingly, offered to do a TED talk on it.

There are two good things that come out of this for me. The first is the joy of presenting a subject to new people and them telling me they get it. The second is the joy of presenting and evolving my own examples, iterating the talk so that it’s always better.

However: I also worry that I’m pigeonholing myself. I’m the guy who does the thing, and being the guy who does the thing means I’ve got to do the thing. It adds a constraint to what I talk about – or, rather, it feels like it adds a constraint. I know that plenty of people wouldn’t mind if I didn’t do it[mfn]indeed, some might applaud the self-restraint[/mfn], and they’d support me if I pitched something else – so a fairly large component of this pressure is coming from within. I’m putting pressure on myself to be the guy who does the thing.

I may be teetering on the edge of self-discovery here, so let’s wind the rope back in for fear of finding something familiar.

What I am also finding, though, is that every year there’s a little bit more understanding in the community. I’m finding doors opening that I’d have had to push at previously, and there are now invitations in my inbox rather than politely confused rejections. People ask my opinion about things.

(ahah, my friend, are we perhaps finding whence the pressure springs?)

My personal saturation point for talking about the basics of this thing has long since passed, and I have to pay attention to that. Twice in a recent talk I found myself covering more complex topics before I’d properly explained the basics, and it’s a good reminder that while I’ve been talking about this for two years the audience may not have heard about it until twenty minutes ago. There is value in doing the basics again and again, and what feels like the same boring repetition to me should feel to the audience like something fresh and novel.

Reframing it as a performance – an interactive performance, but at its core a performance nonetheless – is helping me to remember that point. Hamlet must be thoughtful every night; Godot must wait; the Play That Goes Wrong must go wrong in precisely the same way.

Maybe what feels like overcommunication to you looks like confidence to your audience.

November is National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. I’ll be endeavouring to write one blog post per day in the month of November 2019 – some short and sweet, others long and boring.

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