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Share Your Work

December 28, 2023

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About This Episode

(Season 4, Episode 18)

Sharing your work, even before it is done, can make your work better, make you visible to others, and lead you to a community of support and growth. In this practicast, Jessica Beckendorf and Bob Bertsch talk about the benefits of sharing your work with others and share a practice for getting started.

“Practicasts” are shorter episodes of the podcast highlighting a specific practice to help empower us to work together to improve our resilience and readiness.

If you’re having trouble or you’re not quite ready to share your work and you’d like to practice in a safe space, you can share your work with Bob at [email protected].



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Jessica Beckendorf: Sharing your work even before it’s done can make your work better, it can make you visible to others, and it can lead you to a community of support and growth. Hi, everyone. This is Jessica, and welcome to this week’s Practicing Connection practicast, where we highlight a specific practice you can use in your life and work. This week’s practice is about sharing your work with others. My Practicing Connection co-host, Bob Bertsch, will be guiding us through the practice in a few minutes, but first, let’s learn a little bit more about it. Hi, Bob. Can you start with sharing a little bit of background on the concept of sharing your work with others?

Bob Bertsch: Hi, Jessica. I’d be happy to. My awareness of this concept comes from back in 2014. There was a couple of books that came out then. Both of them were coincidentally titled Show Your Work, so it’s a little bit confusing. One is by Jane Bozarth, and the other is by Austin Kleon. Both books made the argument for sharing your work, especially your works in progress, as a way to connect with people. Jane Bozarth focused a little bit more on connections between people within an organization, and Austin Kleon wrote more about sharing in the open, in social media, the wild.

About a year later, John Stepper released his book called Working Out Loud. That book documented the process that John had developed to help people practice sharing their work in order to find purpose in their work and become more engaged in work. Not necessarily in their organization, if that’s not where their purpose lied, or where their engagement lie, but just in general being more connected with their work through their relationships with other people that were built through the working out loud process.

That process has been super important to our work on Practicing Connection, mostly because it includes so many practices and lessons for building relationships and networks, which is a big emphasis for us. As a concept, sharing your work or working out loud can be applied to all kinds of different contexts, from a work team to an organization or a community issue. Even though the authors that I mentioned focused on different areas, it’s really a useful tool in almost any area that involves human relationship.

Jessica: I really appreciate this history of it, for lack of a better word. It’s only back in 2014. I’m familiar with all of these books, but I didn’t realize their connections and their different specialties. Thank you for sharing that. I’m really curious to learn more about what becomes possible when we share our work. What opportunities does it create for us or for others or for our connections?

Bob: I think there are multitude, starting with some that Austin Kleon highlighted. He writes about three reasons for sharing your work. I think that these reasons are pretty practical, and you can adapt them a little bit to different situations.

First, sharing your work can improve your work. Part of the reason that does that is because it prompts you to think about and document your process. If you think about sharing something that is unfinished, whomever you’re sharing it with, you’ll need to be able to explain the stage that work is in. You’re going to have to tell somebody, hey, this is just an idea, or this is my first draft, or this is a beta version, or what stage is it at. In the process of doing that, you develop an understanding of your process, and that improves your work, and it also improves your work process because you can see how things are working.

The second thing that Austin talks about is that it makes your work visible to others without, as he puts it, “the icky feelings of self-promotion.” I can definitely relate to that.

Jessica: Same here.

Bob: If you are a longtime listener, you probably know that Jessica and I are Midwesterners, and we fit the stereotype in some ways of keeping our light under a bushel basket and not feeling super comfortable talking about ourselves. I’m sure lots of people outside of the Midwest share that as well. This is a way of getting attention, I’ll just say it that way, that helps you self-promote without self-promoting.

Then the last thing that Austin mentions is that it creates a feedback loop. The helpful feedback we receive can definitely help us improve whatever it is that we’re working on. Even unhelpful feedback can become helpful because it might lead us down new paths. Someone might make a suggestion that really isn’t relevant to what we’re working on, but that could become an idea for something else or a different project.

To add to those three things that Austin Kleon points out, I think another potential outcome of sharing your work is the idea of making yourself visible, relates to that self-promotion, but in a different way, and I think a really powerful way. When people can see what you’re working on, it gives them the opportunity to adjust to you. In a work team, showing what you’re working on can change what other team members are doing.

How that might work in the open like on social media or in an organizational sharing platform like Microsoft Teams, making your work visible could allow people to reach out to you to establish a connection. They might offer an opportunity to deepen an existing connection or even offer to collaborate. This is, I think, where the powerful part comes and where this is all going.

When people share information and connect with each other, it opens up what Steven Johnson calls the adjacent possible, and that’s the path or the door that neither person could have imagined or seen on their own. It only becomes visible when those people become visible to each other and start sharing information. Making your work visible to others opens up that adjacent possible. I think that’s a big, big benefit.

Jessica: What are then some of the things that might hold people back from sharing their work?

Bob: The main one for me is imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling that I’m not the “right person” to be sharing this idea or that I’m not an expert in the field that I’m sharing about. That can be a tough one to get over. To get past that, I try to remind myself that I am the expert in my own experience. No other person has had the exact same combination of experiences that I have had, and so I’m the expert in how a particular topic looks through my unique lens. That’s true for everybody. Everybody has their own experiences and their own lens and way of looking at things. Even though you might not be an expert in a topic, it doesn’t mean that you can’t share about it or create work in that area.

I think when we’re sharing in completely open space like social media, I know I do and a lot of us might hold back because we’re afraid of saying the wrong thing or experiencing some backlash or being made to feel less than by comments and things like that. I try to manage that feeling by just choosing how vulnerable I want to be in a particular space. Sharing with my work team, I may choose and do choose to be way more vulnerable and honest if you want to think of it that way than I would be, say, like in a private LinkedIn group.

I might be more vulnerable in a private LinkedIn group than I would be in a completely open social media platform like X or just posting on LinkedIn or Facebook. I think it’s best, no matter where you’re posting, to think about the stakes. What are the potential risks and keep those stakes low starting off so that you can build to where you are comfortable from there. I think the danger is you overshare maybe in an open space, you have a really bad experience and then it becomes such a barrier that you have trouble sharing in other venues as well. Managing that I think is a good way to get started and hopefully not fall into those things that hold us back.

Jessica: Let’s get started. If you could walk us through a practice that will help us share our work.

Bob: Sure.

Jessica: That would be great.

Bob: I’d love to. The easiest way to get ready, I think, to share your work is to start sharing what John Stepper calls the universal gifts and those gifts are attention and gratitude. These are called universal gifts because virtually, everyone enjoys them. Intentionally and authentically sharing attention and gratitude with others is a good way to practice the courage and vulnerability that it might take for us to share our work. If there’s someone you appreciate, but you haven’t told them so or if you have seen or experienced something that has benefited you, take the time to give the gifts of gratitude and/or attention. Once you’re ready to start sharing your work, start with deciding what you want to share. Here are some ideas that you could share just to get you started. You could share an idea that you have for a program or a project or just a random idea. You could share a project that’s in process that you’re working on. You could share your motivations, why do you do the work that you do? You could share a process that’s helpful for you. Maybe a process for reporting or a process for getting started on a project when you have that blank page staring at you and share that with others.

You can share something you’ve learned, or you could share a challenge that you’re facing and need some help with, or a challenge that you’re facing you’ve overcome and you’ve learned something from, and then share what you’ve learned. Once you have decided okay, this is what I’m going to share, next, think about who do I want to share this with. Who is it relevant to, who could offer supportive feedback. This goes back to earlier in our conversation when we talked about choosing a platform where you’re comfortable, where it might be low-risk, or you might get out of it what you want to get out of it while also making sure the person or people that you’re sharing with that it’s relevant to them as well.

Now that you’ve got a person or a group of people in mind, ask yourself why might they be interested. Thinking about this can really help us add context to our sharing message. For example, you might include a phrase like, I thought you would be interested in this idea because of your work on dot dot dot, or something like, I saw your post about this topic on social media so I wanted to share this with you. Why would they be interested helps you add context to that message. Thinking about why someone would be interested in what you’re sharing might also help you think of others that you could potentially share this work with.

Finally, you need to decide how you are going to share your work, like what’s the method? Are you going to send an email to just one person? Are you going to share it in a private chat like Teams or Slack? Are you going to post it in a private group or in the open on social media? Again, think about what makes you comfortable and what opportunities might be opened up by sharing your work in that particular way. If you’ve thought about all that and answered those questions, you’ve got a plan. Go ahead and share your work. If you’re having trouble or you’re not quite ready to share your work and you’d like to practice in a safe space, you can share your work with me. Just email me. My email address is [email protected], and I’ll put that invitation on the show notes as well.

Jessica: What a generous invitation. Thank you so much for sharing this guide to thinking through how to share your work with others. That’s it for this episode. Thanks for joining us. We hope you’ll give this practice a try and share your experience in the Practicing Connection LinkedIn group where people supporting military families practice the skills that empower us to work together so that we can positively impact our communities and help families thrive. You’ll find the link to the group on our website at We’ll be back next week with a new podcast episode focused on investing time in leisure, learning, and yourself. Until then, keep practicing.

Kalin Goble: The Practicing Connection podcast is a production of OneOp and is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, U.S. Department of Defense under award numbers 2019-48770-30366 and 2023-48770-41333.

[00:14:09] [END OF AUDIO]


December 28, 2023
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