Out of the Comfort Zone, on to the Stage

March hurried in, windswept and grinning, and gave me a firm shove right out of my comfort zone.
The train bound for Test Bash Brighton was in motion, my everyday left standing at the station.

After two days of ambient information absorption, things were afoot in my mental landscape. Disjointed synapses crackled into movement, straightening out rumpled thoughts and connecting them with their fellows. Happily bewildered handshakes rippled outwards, ideas forming.

I found myself standing in the queue for the 99 second talks, the noise of speech and audience washing over me in incomprehensible waves as I willed strength into my legs (with limited success).


I waded unsteadily across the stage, weighed down with eyes, and clung gratefully to the podium.
There were thoughts I wished to express, and no-one to do so but myself.

inconveniently my heartbeat relocated into my throat

My purpose in speaking was not only to communicate but also a trial of courage. so I was only slightly deterred by my inelegant delivery, words stumbling over themselves in their hurry to be heard.

Nevertheless this introverted hermit faced her fears and conveyed some thoughts! There’s even a photo (below), and if you’d like to see the actual 99 seconds, the talks were recorded and are available to watch on the Ministry of Testing Dojo (I appear at 10:20 but recommend watching the video in it’s entirety)!


99 seconds are not nearly enough

At least, not to discuss a topic so close to my heart. I vowed to expand on my thoughts, so:


As testers we try not to accept uncritically whatever we’re told. We try to see things as they really are.

This mindset – question everything – is not natural or comfortable for a lot of people.


...no major issues... recently

Humans crave stability and certainty.

Pattern matching and prediction feels comfortable because the brain can do it with far less resource than processing reality moment-to-moment, and to compound the whole thing we live in a culture in which we are rewarded for appearing to know the answers.


you know, just to be sure


Often there are complex emotional roots behind these facades: anxieties and fears that influence our thoughts and actions without necessarily surfacing in the conscious mind.


humiliation! that'll be FUN let them check it go on


We might believe in something illusory to safeguard feelings.



Perhaps we anchor ourselves to these beliefs, even if we know on some level that they’re illusions, because to do otherwise might be painful or difficult. Sometimes we hold on to those beliefs so tightly that they become our reality.

Challenging them can feel like a personal attack


are you calling me a liar



These illusions are held by humans with very real emotions.

Therefore we must take care not to get carried away with (what may well be) reasonable and righteous conviction, and remember that none of us come fully equipped. There are invisible biases and battles beneath surface reactions, and we can meet them with kindness.


do you want to talk about it?

We are all fallible, and deserving of compassion.

Kindness is not the same as politeness, or assent. True kindness is not seeming kind, preserving our image and tiptoeing around others, but helping people adjust as best they can to reality.

Kindness is remembering the presence of goodness in someone behaving badly. We can afford generosity in our interpretations of behaviour. The person banging loudly on the table may be exhausted, emotionally threatened, or enthusiastic!


they'll be great friends, you'll see, hector's great!


I think we need to continue to question and challenge, but do so whilst preserving a sense of comedy and plenty of compassion for our fellow humans.

We can break illusions without breaking hearts


Categories: Kindess

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