© 2010 Ugur Akinci
Watching the Winter Olympics is such pleasure, such fun… But I also find myself frequently pondering about the parallels between the Olympic struggle on ice and snow and the struggle required in this life to become a successful technical communicator.
Here are some of my thoughts, in no particular order…
Just look at the variety of competition in the Olympics… There is Downhill Racing (painfully fast) and then there is Curling (painfully slow)… There is Cross Country (takes hours) and there is Short Track Skating (takes minutes)…
LESSON: a technical writer needs to specialize too. There are so many wonderful writing niches. Why get stuck in one of it’s not working for you? Write White Papers. If that doesn’t work, try grant writing, or software documentation. This wide world is yours to explore and discover. Move, and you shall find.
There are so many athletes who lost in the last Olympics due to a freakish accident. They waited and trained for FOUR years to get another shot. Yet, after four long years, they again have another mishap due to one of the millions of variables that they could not control. They get up, rub their aching tendons and joints, and resolve to come back AGAIN… in four years!
LESSON: don’t get down on yourself, don’t get depressed if you can’t succeed after one, two, three or four years. Get up, brush off the blues, and press on for another four years. There’ll always be another race, another Olympics, and another you. Get ready for the NEXT YOU!
Then there are the bona fide CHAMPIONS… those great “category killers” like Shaun “The Flying Tomato” White… or Shani Davis… The difference between them and their closest competitors might be just an inch, or a second, but it’s always there. There is always that tenacity, that determination and EDGE, backed up by relentless PREPARATION…
In a world where (almost) EVERYONE knows how to speak and write (think about it!), what does it take to be a successful writer, a great technical communication professional? Yes, the same tenacity, dedication, self-confidence and preparation that goes into becoming an Olympic champion and nothing less! It’s the same struggle waged on a different platform with different tools.
I think watching the Winter Olympics is teaching me how to become a better and more persistent writer… while reminding me once again both the difficulties and the exhilarating possibilities of self-expression and information design.