Overcoming Those Small Town Voices In My Head

As I was preparing to head to Nebraska last week to conduct a three day API workshop for Mutual of Omaha, I began having some of the usual doubts in my head about whether or not I had what it took to deliver at an organization of this size. Thinking about flying to Omaha for a week to consult within a company who was baked into my childhood triggered all kinds of voices in my head. Their architecture team and I had hammered out a robust outline for the three day workshop in a Google Doc over the previous weeks, so I knew what I was in for, but for some reasons the voices of doubt in my head were louder and stronger than they usually are.

I remember hiking through the woods to my grandparents house to watch Mutal of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when I was a kid. I knew it would be on the TV at my grandparents house, something I couldn’t count on at home. I can’t say I’ve ever had Mutual of Omaha insurance in my adult life, but the brand is baked into my consciousness, giving the small town voices in my head something to anchor in as they work overtime to sew doubt in my mind. Over the weekend, as I prepared for the week ahead, the voices were getting louder, letting me know in real-time I wouldn’t have what it took to deliver at this scale. You just aren’t good enough to be doing this. You just aren’t smart enough. There is no way you have what it takes.

You don’t have the follow-through or the integrity. Just give up!

In the end, the week went fine. I spent three days at the white board in a room of 10-30 people, learning about their legacy infastructure, their plans for the future, and sharing what I’ve learned from a thirty year technology career, and seven years of studying the API space. At the end of our session, the group wrote everything they learned on a sprawling white board, listing the details of the knowledge I brought to the table, and crafting a strategy for how’d they’d report to management the value of our engagement. I’m now working on a follow-up report from my perspective, which I will be submitting along with an invoice for my time spent in Nebraska. The small town voices in my head were wrong. I had delivered.

That was last week. This week I began my Monday morning on a two-hour call with the IRS team in charge of internal API strategy, walking through their plan for delivering APIs at scale internally, providing reassurance where I could, and adding new details when relevant. After getting off the call I’m reminded by my partner in crime that I know my shit. I’ve worked really, really, really hard to stay top of my game. I have studied the API space, and invested countless hours to make sure I can do that at ANY scale. Despite all this hard work the small town voices in my head always seem to creep in at the worst possible moments, but I just need to remember that I do have the follow through, and the integrity to deliver at this scope–don’t you ever forget it.