Skype: How Hard Can It Be?
Earlier this spring I wrote a post about living life with more spontaneity and openness to unplanned opportunities. (Here) Technology doesn’t exactly intimidate me, but I’m the first to admit that the tools I use tend toward those I’ve used before. I rely on the ones I’ve learned and stretch them to their limits rather than “wasting time” learning an alternative tool, even if it’s one that could be much more efficient, once mastered.
Each time I nudge myself into a new realm (first FaceBook, then Twitter, then TweetChats, then smart phones and tablets) I flash back to my days on the diving board. From ground level the low board looked like no challenge at all, especially if I just wanted to take a bounce and then cannonball into the water. It must be fun, considering how many kids were always standing in long lines for a turn. I could swim, deep water was no worry, and I wasn’t about to miss out on fun and excitement. So I lined right up, eager to take the plunge, literally.
But that first time I climbed the two steps up to the board I clung to the side bars, shocked by how high I seemed to be above ground level. Never one to back down (especially in public), I took some tentative steps forward and saw… the end of the board was an additional three feet above the pool’s surface!
Suddenly I wanted to change my mind. My only alternative, though, would be to walk back and climb down the ladder. I learned then (and in countless other situations) that what I might lack in bravery could be compensated for with stubbornness. So I did the only thing I could. I ignored my heart slamming against my rib cage and ran right off the end of the board, plunging into the water, feet first and holding my nose.
It wasn’t pretty, I’m sure. But I realized how unthreatening and fun the board could be. That was the start of endless summer days spent in lines at the board, eventually diving. That never became pretty either, but I grew in competence and confidence, and the fun just kept on coming.
All this leads me back to technology. I’m informed enough about the capabilities of techno-commmunication tools to know that my expertise is still somewhere barely a notch above novice. Rather than turn my back on so many viable technical options (which are not only useful but can be loads of fun!) I’m vowing to take the plunge.
Last week Stephanie Lowden, author and friend, interviewed me for her blog using Skype. As expected, my first attempt wasn’t pretty. But with multiple viewings of YouTube tutorials and Steph’s patient hand-holding, I actually enjoyed it. She even managed to select portions of my very lengthy responses that got right to the heart of her questions for her blog post. (here) She gave me other options for the interview, but I swallowed hard and jumped into Skype. Now I can see Skype in my future on a regular basis.
That certainly wasn’t an earth-shattering adventure, nor was it a particularly major challenge. What I noticed, though, is that I had been shuffling around “try Skype” on my mental to-do list for W-A-A-A-Y too long. The cost/benefit ratio of using Skype strongly favors the benefit side. But the longer I shuffled (the list, or my feet on that board the first time) the bigger the challenge loomed in my perception.
Half a year has passed since I wrote that earlier post, and I’m starting to think I should reread it once a week or so. Why scare myself out of doing things that pose little threat yet offer huge potential benefits?
Let’s not forget fun!