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3X3: Questions that Could Change the Way You Think

Published 12/13/2017

It's 3X3 Week!

All week we'll be covering three practical take aways that you can apply to your day. Today's episode we cover three simple questions you can ask yourself that might change the way you think. Listen on!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Recently on Developer Tea, we talked about the power of questions. And I recommend you go back and listen to that episode because today I'm going to be asking you three questions that might change the way you think. This sounds like a very big idea, but really it's very simple. I have three questions that I've asked myself recently that kind of changed my perspective in some way. And I'm going to share those questions with you today. Today's episode is another episode in this week's three by three series. The goal of the three by three series we've done one in the past another week before this week. And this is the second three by three series. Be sure to go back and look for those episodes. But the whole goal of this is to provide you three episodes this week Monday, Wednesday and Friday as normal. But in these three episodes, we're going to be giving you three practical takeaways that you can apply to your career today. You can ask yourself these questions today. That's the entire goal of the three by three series. And these episodes have been particularly popular with this audience. So I hope that you are enjoying this further. And I did have some people contact me and say, hey, you should continue this. So you if you are enjoying the three by three, I really would appreciate some feedback so that we can continue this into 2018. Now, before we continue, I do want to take a moment. And encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day to sit down and just relax. This is a very busy time of year for pretty much everyone, but especially for people who work in any kind of commerce business. A lot of developers are working in that sphere or you're working with people who are working in that sphere. So I recommend that if you are feeling stressed out, if you're feeling a little bit overwhelmed, you're not alone. There are a lot of people who are in the same kind of emotional state that you're in, the same kind of stressful state that you're in, trying to meet deadlines while also managing probably dealing with holiday stress, like trying to manage schedules of meeting family and holiday parties at work and that kind of thing. So it's very easy to get overwhelmed. And no wonder we see the new year as a reset because suddenly all of that stuff kind of falls away. And do we have our clean slate and we have our new year's resolutions ready to go and we kind of calm down a little bit after all of the craziness. So instead of waiting until the new year to find that little bit of sanity, I recommend that you find some peace and quiet today. And whatever that means, maybe it means a five minute walk outside depending on how cold it is where you are. Or maybe it just means sitting at your desk and listening to one of your favorite songs. Whatever it means for you, find some peace and quiet, find some tranquility and remind yourself that this happens every year. So I hope somebody who's listening to this, I hope you feel encouraged as a result of that of this quick discussion on finding a little bit of peace and quiet in this extremely busy season. Okay, so let's jump into these three questions that I think are going to change your mind. Three questions that I think are going to change the way you think. So we're going to jump straight. And the first one is what if I suddenly could not code? What if I suddenly couldn't code? What value could I bring to my career? And you might be thinking, well, why would I ask this question? I'm not going to stop coding. The reason I actually have thought about this in the past is because I was thinking about my liabilities, ways of protecting my career in case, you know, some kind of tragedy occurred. And so imagine, for example, that suddenly I wasn't able to use my hands. Maybe I get in some sort of accident and my hands are paralyzed. And this is hypothetical. I'm not intending to make you think about all of the bad things that can happen to you. Instead, this is actually just a positive mental exercise in thinking beyond the code. This is something that we do on the show very often. So the exercise isn't to list all of the ways that you would end up not coding. That's only going to serve to create worry and anxiety. But instead, imagine what you would do if you suddenly couldn't code. And for the sake of the exercise, you can still imagine that you have use of your hands. You can still imagine that you're physically able and that your mind is still able to accomplish things. So what would you do? What could you do to provide value in your career? And this is an important question. Everybody's going to have different answers to this, right? This isn't just one, you know, there's not a silver bullet answer to this. Some people already have their answer while they're listening to this episode right now. They know exactly where they would go. They know exactly what they would do to provide value. Some people would change careers altogether. They wouldn't be involved in software development at all. Some people would still be involved in software development, but they would change their, you know, their role in some way. Maybe they would become, you know, something like a project manager, agile coach, something in that sphere. Others may become more like a mentor role. There's so many different ways, different avenues you could take. But here's what I want to encourage you to do. This year, as 2018 approaches, I'd love for you to start thinking about how you can start incorporating other types of value that you can bring to your job. This is especially true for people who work at smaller companies, people who work at agencies. What are things that you can do that can provide more value in your career than just the code that you write? What else can you take on? What are the responsibilities? And this is not to increase your workload, but rather to change the diversity of the types of work that you do, right? Not to add more work to your plate, but instead to maximize your efforts. And hopefully, assuming that you are one of those people who would stay in the industry, even if you couldn't code, hopefully what you'll start to see is that code is just an output. Code itself is just a result of a lot of thinking and a lot of work that goes on before the code ever exists. And it is important. Don't get me wrong here. It is very important. The people who are writing the code, they must be skilled individuals. And that output is very valuable. But it's not the only thing. It's not the only thing that composes software development. So that's the first question and you should answer this for yourself. Once again, what if I suddenly couldn't code? What if I was unable to code? What value could I bring to my career? Number two, what achievement do I have placed on a pedestal that has caused me to make compromises? What future achievement, what goal, what motivator have I placed on a pedestal that has caused me to do something that I otherwise would not have done? Do something that I didn't really want to do necessarily or something that was kind of outside of my normal range of what I would prefer or even something that I wouldn't do based on my personal values. Many people make compromises they wouldn't make if it weren't for a particular goal, a particular achievement that they have placed on a pedestal. Maybe that achievement for you is a title at your company. Maybe it's a certain salary. Perhaps it is owning a particular thing. Maybe it's a relationship. It could be anything. It could be really any kind of achievement that you want to gain. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do to change your personal habits is to change your motivations. I can share a personal example of this exact thing in my own life. Sometimes I find myself caught up spending every single waking minute in a given day thinking about work. Some of this is my personality. Some of this thinking about work means thinking about bettering myself, thinking about becoming a better person. All of that is kind of internal in my head. I'm thinking more than I am spending time with people around me. It makes sense for me to stop and take a step back and ask, why am I doing this? It's easy to say, well, I want to be a better person. My son is actually turning six months old on the day this episode airs. One of my personal motivations in the long term is to make enough margin in my life so that I can spend time with my family. Make enough extra money, for example, to pay off my mortgage early or make enough time in my workday, enough flexibility in my workday that I can choose to be around my son whenever he gets off of school at three o'clock, for example. That would be something that I would want to do. That motivating factor, I've placed that on a pedestal. This idea that I have flexibility to spend time with my family. This is a motivation that I place on a pedestal. As you can see, this is actually probably a pretty good motivation. It's hard to fight with the idea that spending time with your family is a good idea. It's something that most people would want. There's nothing particularly bad about that motivation. What is interesting is that I can actually do that today. It's important to figure out what particular goal you have on a pedestal to decide if there's another way to achieve that same level of satisfaction. Thing that I'm trading, that time with my family, the thing that I'm trading in order to think about my career in order to try to create that margin, is the thing that I'm actually pursuing. A lot of times we have these goals and we've placed them up on a pedestal as our driving motivating factors and we put them out into the future some time. Then we mindlessly work towards those goals. We work really hard to get a promotion. We work extra hours to get a promotion. Maybe we work with a client that we don't necessarily want to be involved with. Maybe we don't believe the same things they believe. We're compromising our personal values. Maybe we just don't like them. We don't like working with them. They don't align with us in a professional sense. Sometimes we'll work with those kinds of people in order to achieve these goals. Our goals are driving us to make compromises today that if we were to take those goals off of that pedestal or if we were to try to find a different way to accomplish the same level of satisfaction without that goal being the way to accomplish it, we wouldn't be making those same compromises. This will free you from making compromises about the work you do every day and once you've explicitly identified those motivations that cause you to make compromises, you can determine more identity-driven motivations that avoid those unnecessary trade-offs. If my goal is to spend more time with my family than perhaps I can do that today. I encourage you to examine your motivations and determine if maybe there's another way to accomplish the same level of satisfaction. For example, let's say that you are motivated by a particular promotion. Is it the promotion? Is it the actual title that you want or is there another underlying factor that is driving you to desire that promotion? Maybe you're actually desiring respect from your coworkers. Maybe there's another way to gain that same level of respect without gunning for that promotion. So, examining that motivation, recognizing what the true underlying factors are of your motivators, why is it that you care about that particular thing? Finding other ways to accomplish those, that could totally change the way that you are operating in your career today. Okay, question number three. Real quick, question number one was, what if I suddenly couldn't code? Question number two was, what achievement do I have placed on a pedestal? It causes me to make compromises. And then question number three, what am I rushing? What am I rushing? What am I doing quickly on purpose? Let's start out by saying this is a value that I hold here at Developer Tea. Rushing is not a good thing. In fact, in almost every single scenario you can imagine, rushing is not a good thing. The only scenario that I can imagine where rushing is a good thing is if there is an emergency, if someone is actually in pain or if their health is being threatened, then rushing to help avoid a disaster, that makes sense. That's an unavoidable situation. But in almost every other scenario I can imagine rushing is not a good thing. Now, we can figure this out by explaining why rushing isn't a good thing. Let's talk about what rushing means. What does it mean to rush? So put it simply, if you're rushing, you're implicitly or explicitly saying the thing that you are doing right now is not worth the time that it is taking you to do it. Right? Let's talk about that for a second. You are implicitly saying that the thing you are doing is not worth the time, it is taking you to do it. So you're incentivized to do it faster. This happens all the time. You rush the way that we write code, we rush testing, for example. We rush when we're driving to work. Maybe we rush because we're afraid of a consequence. But we do very often rush things, even small things. Sometimes we rush when we're walking from one place to another. I like to think of those moving sidewalks in the airport because those actually help us move faster than we would normally. And once again, sometimes the reason that we're rushing is because we want to avoid a consequence, not necessarily that the thing we're doing right now isn't worth our time, but rather that it is unavoidable that we must do this thing by a certain time because we have other external dependencies. But most of the time, most of the time when we are rushing something that we are doing is because we don't believe it is worth our time. Or because implicitly we are being told that something else needs to be done quickly. So one of two things must be true when you are rushing. One of two things must be true when you are rushing. Number one, the thing you are doing is not worth doing yourself. So you should either delegate it, automate it, or quit doing it. Let me say that again. The thing you are doing is not worth doing yourself. So you should delegate it, automate it, or quit doing it all together. Either that's the case, either it is not worth doing yourself, or the thing you are doing is worth taking your time. And something else needs to be eliminated to allow you the time needed to focus on what is worth focusing on. One of those two things must be true. We are not perfectly efficient individuals. Because we do have strange impositions of time placed on us. Like for example, the airplane is late when you arrive at the airport. So walking on that moving sidewalk makes total sense. It makes sense to rush from one gate to another. Because if you don't the consequence of missing your flight may be worse than the consequence of rushing walking. And that totally makes sense. But when we're talking about those professional things that we do or the everyday activities that we involve ourselves in, if we examine what we are rushing, we will often find new ways of thinking about our activity. We can find new ways of thinking about being mindful of the things that we're doing. So the next time you feel rushed, the next time you feel the tendency to move faster, then really what it takes to do something well or what it takes to do something mindfully and what it takes to do something naturally, that urge to try to speed things up. I want you to focus on why. Figure out is this worth my time? What is causing me to feel the need to rush this? And is there something that I need to eliminate to give enough time to this activity? If things are appropriately spaced in your life, this includes in your personal life, in your professional life, in your social life, if things are appropriately spaced, then a constant sense of kind of calm urgency. And the idea of calm urgency is that you never have a sense that you're behind, but you also always have something to do. You always have something important in front of you, something that you value, something that is necessary and is the best use of your time. And to not do that thing would be a misstep, but to rush that thing would be a misstep as well. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Developer Tea. This episode was constructed for developers who want to think about this kind of stuff. Players who want to become great in their careers. My goal on the show is to uncover that personal purpose, that career purpose that you have as a developer, to help you figure out what that is, first of all. And secondly, to help you figure out how to use that in your career, to inspire you to create better work and ultimately to become great at what you do each and every day. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. I hope you find some time to ask yourself these questions. And I hope that you have your own set of questions that change the way that you think on a daily basis. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time, enjoy your tea.