Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …



A ⚡️talk at PagerDuty

Reg Braithwaite

February 14, 2018

More Decks by Reg Braithwaite

Other Decks in Business


  1. Hello, I'm Reg Braithwaite. Today I'd like to talk about

    courage. The dictionary tells me that "courage" is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/joevahling/9153370287) PagerDuty
  2. Courage helps us change and grow. Change is uncertain. Courage

    helps us do difficult things, painful things. Courage helps us escape from environments that try to intimidate us into being less than who we are. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/joevahling/ 9153370287) Courage the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. PagerDuty 2
  3. "Courage" is a really big word. When we say "courage,"

    we think of things like standing up against injustice, or speaking truth to power. One of the problems with the word "courage," is that it sounds too big, too intimidating. Too hard. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/taedc/4863004688) PagerDuty 3
  4. How do we make the leap all the way from

    being our ordinary selves, to becoming courageous? It seems like we need a tremendous amount of courage, just to become courageous! That's hard. PagerDuty 4
  5. There is a way: We can do small things, one

    at a time. Every day, we have dozens of opportunities to commit tiny acts of courage. Each tiny act of courage is like a pebble. It's small, but it's still a rock. It's still courage. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterpearson/ 3090070386) PagerDuty 5
  6. Now: If we listen to motivational speakers, to society, we're

    told that the value of tiny acts is that they can be put together into a big act, like pebbles piled into a tower. This is unnecessary, and wrong. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bladeflyer/ 6996525239) PagerDuty 6
  7. Or perhaps we are told that courage is a habit,

    and by practising it daily, we'll build up our courage into an irresistible force, and that is the goal. This is also unnecessary, and it is also wrong. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andreanna/ 2837855969) PagerDuty 7
  8. A pebble is a pebble. A pebble does not have

    to be stacked. A pebble does not have to be part of a beach. We do not have to place a pebble every day. We do not have to grow strong to place bigger pebbles. A pebble is a pebble. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ PagerDuty 8
  9. Stacks of stone are useful. Habits we practice, make us

    strong. A pasture of grass nourishes life. But a tiny act of courage, like grass in a crack, is an act of courage, and it is its own reward. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ pyogenes_gruffer/39969678731) PagerDuty 9
  10. Ok! This is great, it's inspirational. But we still need

    to eat. We need to go about our everyday lives. We need to ship. How, specifically, can we commit these tiny acts of courage? I have a suggestion. Consider this: (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ PagerDuty 10
  11. We often refer to customer wishes as "faster horses." The

    principle is to look beyond what people want, and to build what they need. But it takes courage to build something that people don't know they want yet. For example: (https://www.flickr.com/photos/roolewis/ 15931212035) “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Henry Ford PagerDuty 11
  12. In 2002, I attended a one-day programming language conference organized

    by Paul Graham. The morning keynote was by Joe Armstrong, who introduced the Erlang programming language. Few people had heard of Erlang. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dan4th/ 167330621) PagerDuty 12
  13. Erlang was "functional," which was weird, and didn't have curly

    braces, also weird. But it did concurrency at scale really, really well. Erlang gave people what they needed, and it grew into a modest success. Later, someone made it familiar, that's Elixir, and we use it at PagerDuty today. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/ 3879361532/) PagerDuty 13
  14. See what I just did? I described "courage" as inventing

    a programming language! That's not a pebble. A pebble might be trying a new language. Or just asking politely, "Why are we using Ruby to build something concurrent, at scale?" (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ksayer/5614813544) PagerDuty 14
  15. So one thing we can do whenever we see an

    act of courage that looks big and daunting and intimidating, is scale it down. We can ask ourselves, "What is the smallest act of courage that could possibly make a difference?" (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ 50253654@N06/5241846534) PagerDuty 15
  16. Questions are fantastic pebbles. And as pebbles, they don't need

    to be big or important or serious. It is not necessary to ask a question that changes everything. Just take courage, and ask a question! (https://www.flickr.com/photos/skhan/ 3483855239) PagerDuty 16
  17. Questions aren't the only kind of courage. Another is listening,

    being receptive, being open to change. We can cultivate "Strong opinions, weakly held." That is a kind of courage. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/runran/ 2875808584) PagerDuty 17
  18. We can also be defensive when others questions us personally.

    Questions feel like criticism, and that's painful. A small pebble of courage is to listen despite the pain. I feel this pain too, and when you feel it, I send you my hugs. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tompagenet/ 2595893059 PagerDuty 18
  19. Now, speaking of being open to correction: It turns out

    that Ford didn't actually say this! People wanted cars, they just couldn't afford them. Ford's innovation was making cars affordable. I didn't know that until I prepared this talk. (public domain) “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Henry Ford PagerDuty 19
  20. This reminds us that lots of conventional wisdom is wrong.

    Lots of things everybody knows, aren't true. So have the courage to question. And have the courage to listen, and to be open to learning. Thank you. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/amitp/ 11182201516) PagerDuty 20