March 19, 2013
Kent Beck wrote this great article on humility, and on the importance of being trustworthy:
As a presenter, it's more important to be trustworthy than expert. Some trustworthy answers are, “I don't know,” or, “I don't know, does anyone else here know?” or, “Here's how I would find out.”
Many of the people I look up to in our industry have shown a willingness to acknowledge what they don't know, Glenn Vanderburg and Dave Thomas being two examples that come quickly to mind. My shame would have it otherwise most of the time, so it's encouraging to me to not only read Kent's advice on being transparent, but that he struggles with it too:
My desire to have others see me differently than I see myself gets in the way. With decades of practice, I can usually keep the inner struggle short enough that all the audience sees is a reasonable response, but the struggle still happens every time.

Here's what I mean. At a recent lunch in Cafe X I was seated at an alpha geek table. I followed most of the conversation and contributed my share. When something came up that I wasn't familiar with, though, I was reluctant to ask a question. I wanted to be seen as savvy and on the ball. Questions that reveal ignorance interfered with how I wanted to be seen.