This year has been quite overwhelming for me. I got invited to speak at conferences all over the world, visited a few usergroups in Europe, finally managed to attended WeCamp and met amazing people in real life that I knew only via chats and emails or not at all before we met.
And throughout these encounters every now and then there was someone thanking me for something I did. And I usually try to play that down. In my eyes that “something” isn’t noteworthy for me. It isn’t something “big” or “important”. It’s not something that I created to become famous. Usually that “something” was created to scratch my own itch. And suddenly people thank me for me scratching my itch. That somehow doesn’t seem “right” for me.
Accepting a Thank You for something that everyone else could have done feels weird. But the thing is: I did it. Not someone else. And what I thought is just my itch seems to have been the itch of so many other people as well. But they didn’t step up and scratch it. Some might not even have known that it was their itch. But by having it scratched others realized that it was “scratchworthy”. And so I came to realize that it’s OK to accept a Thank You. It’s not only for doing whatever people thank me, it’s also for realizing that something should be done. It’s for going from “someone should” to “I will”. For making a general wish actually actionable.
And even though I wrote about me in these lines so far, the same applies to everyone out there: Most of the awesome things created out there where created because someone was solving an issue they had, and not because they wanted to become famous for something. Becoming famous sort of happens along the way. I remember a friend of mine telling me that he didn’t understand “Twitter-Fame”: People stepping up to him at conferences just to take a selfie with him. But that was exactly the thing. Those people valued him for what he did for them, even without realizing that he did something. And by now every time someone steps up to me for a selfie (which doesn’t happen that often) I’m grinning for myself and mumble “Thank you too”.
So accepting a Thank You is still not easy (and I think that’s good because it shows me it’s not the default) but I can accept it now. And it is a nice way of getting a bit of reward back for time and effort put into that scratching my own itch.
Which brings me to the other side of that Thank You.
As I just said: Most projects where born by solving a problem someone had. And from that point on it also suddenly solved the same problem for a lot of people. So if you haven’t done so already, why not say Thank You to those projects, people, companies that made it possible to help you with your work?
Think about which projects, people of companies have actually helped you with your days to day job? Sit down (or stand up) and thank them! You might ask: “How can I thank them?” Well, nothing is easier than that: Write them a mail or a tweet with a plain and simple “Thank you”. Or a more elaborate “Thank you for your hard work that makes my life as Developer easier”. Or have a look around the internet to see whether there is an Amazon Wishlist to get something from or a Patreon you can support or a consulting-gig you can use to support the project. Or hire one of the developers for a certain amount of time to allow them working full-time on their project.
Say Thank you to the people that created your framework of choice, your DBAL of choice, your programming-language of choice, your WebServer of choice, your TLS of choice. Thank the people that provide your serverless-environment, your billing-plattform or your tax-return. And even if you pay for those services, that’s a matter of allowing them to continue to run the service. But that Thank You also shows them that it’s been the right thing to do in the first place. And that it’s not only a business but also something their customers value.
And isn’t this the best time of the year to say Thank You?
So from me a big Thank You to all the usergroup-organizers, all the conference-organizers, all the Chat-Channel moderators, all the volunteers that help keeping and making my language of choice awesome, all the maintainers of all the awesome libraries and projects, all the companies that support OpenSourceSoftware, all the people doing their share to make this community awesome and to everyone I forgot!
And also – last but not least – a big Thank you to you for reading this! And perhaps Thank You for saying Thank you?