I’ve been working on this post for a little while, shortly after I listened to the episode.  It seemed fitting to share on International Women’s Day.  

Inflection Point Radio is quickly becoming one of my favorite podcasts.  Host, Lauren Schiller invites guest from all over, “women who are changing the status quo”.  As she is celebrating the one year anniversary of her podcast, I wanted to share an episode that truly meant a lot to me.

An explorer who has summited the 7 highest peaks in the world, Alison Levine, was the guest on this episode.  Alison was Captain of the First American Women’s Everest Expedition.  I loved hearing her stories, but most of what resonated for me was her talk about Ego and Fear.  I had pretty strong opinions of both as being bad characteristics, but I learned a different perspective from what she shared.

Ego.  I always associated this with arrogant people who felt they deserved to get what they wanted regardless of the effect on others.  But Alison said that she had learned from Coach K that there are many types of Ego.  He shared that ego is the trait he most looks for when he’s choosing players for the US Olympic Men’s Basketball team, but he is looking for a specific type of ego.  Coach K looks for the type of ego that doesn’t let self-doubt enter into things.  He looks for the type of ego that prevents a player from letting his teammates down. I had never seen this type of ego before.  I had only seen the show-boating representation of ego.  But it makes sense that these are all parts of ego, and that ego, like many other personality traits, involves balance.

Fear.  Fear was something I learned from an early age not to share or show.  I was a small kid and easy pickings, so most signs of weakness I pushed down deep and tried hard not to expose them.  As I found real friends in school and matured, this subsided quite a bit.  In college, as I entered Engineering and later Computer Science, I had to toughen up again.  Weakness was attacked on the Internet, even in the “good old days”, and I quickly learned to hide my gender and not to show vulnerability on the Internet.

What Alison shared was that there are two types of fear.  There is the type of fear that informs you of danger and the type of fear that prevents your even trying because something bad might happen.  Being able to distinguish between the two types of fear is invaluable.  You want to try new things, and you want to let yourself fail because that’s how you learn.  If fear keeps you from trying anything new, you won’t grow.

As an athlete and explorer, Alison Levine has certainly put herself in challenging and dangerous situations.  Her stories on Inflection Point Radio were so helpful to me.  I was able to see where in my career I have let fear keep me from trying new things and also where I have protected myself from dangerous situations.

I hope that by recognizing the differences, I will be more bold in the things I do.  I’d like to find that good ego that steels my determination to create something awesome and to stop the fear that makes it difficult to talk about programming on the Internet.  I doubt I’ll be joining reddit anytime soon, but I think this blog is a good first step.

If any of this sounds interesting, I hope you will listen to Inflection Point Radio.  I have learned so much on this podcast about awesome things that people are doing all over the world.  I’m always inspired by this podcast!  I want to be a bigger part of change in the world and helping people, and I feel like this show is helping me to find the right place to do that.