Sharing Helps Us Learn

This blog was originally posted on Medium.

Simon Tomes recently spoke at TestBash Belfast. There was one line he said that made me instantly think “YES! Exactly that.” I’ve been mulling the line over, trying to put thoughts to it ever since.

“The more I shared the more I learned.”

I’m going to try to explain why that line means so much to me and why I think you need to think long and hard about it too.

Learning to share

I joined the Ministry of Testing Slack about a year and a half ago. I was an introverted newbie tester looking for help. I was also terrified to ask for it in case I asked a stupid question or the wrong person a stupid question.

Fast forward about 6 months: I had attended TestBash Brighton and met Andrew Morton. We got chatting on Slack after that about how I wished for a good testing community in Belfast. He said something along the lines of “Funny you should mention that, there’s a guy called Neill Boyd in another Slack group looking to set up a meetup for Belfast.” I managed to join that Slack and get talking to Neill.

I attended the first meetup of NI Testers and met some amazing people. I even joined the group of organisers! I shared I wanted something like this in Belfast and learned it was actually in the pipeline. I’m still learning about how to grow and engage that community but I’m learning with the community here. They share what they like/dislike/would like to see in the future and we work to try to make that happen.

Help and be helped

Someone shared with me at one of the meetups around TestBash Belfast that they were struggling to move jobs and they felt a bit stuck in the domain they were testing in. We had a really long chat about the possible avenues this person could go down to expand their options. In the end a lot of it came back to sharing: come to a meetup, join a Slack, share that you have a problem and the community will help you learn.

I won’t reiterate the details of my Dynamic tables in automation post but again, I shared that I had a problem, the community probed that problem a bit and I started to learn. I learned that it wasn’t a stupid question. I also learned that I knew more than I thought I did. I gained two mentors with Richard Bradshaw and Andrew, I managed to make a difference with a bottleneck in my company.

Share to Learn

So many of us have impostor syndrome or feel like we’ll be asking a silly question or taking up someones time. My message to you would be exactly the same as Simon’s, the more you share the more you will learn. The testing community are a great and vast bunch of people. Someone out there will know how to help or advise you or they will know a person who can.

Don’t be afraid to share your problems. Don’t be afraid to share your learnings so others can learn from you. You never know who you’ll inspire! There are so many mediums you can use to share your problems and look for help: Slack, Twitter, LinkedIn, Meetups, forums like The Club, the list goes on.

Get out there, dip your toes, engage, share something and see what you learn.

In my situation in work this is also applicable. How many of us sit there thinking “Shit shit shit I don’t know what’s going on with this”? Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and ask to go back over something or say you don’t know. When it comes to testing, be confident sharing what you’ve discovered. You and your team will learn something valuable.

Now go be the person who can say “The more I shared the more I learned”.