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Intention, Action and Result

Published 9/10/2020

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
If you've ever gone through an annual review process at your job or maybe in your own personal life, you've probably encountered the question, what do you want? A similar question might be, what would you like to do in the next year or five years? These are hard questions to answer because they don't have a straightforward answer, but more importantly, they're too simple. The questions themselves don't ask us enough. My name is Jonathan Cutrelly listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. So what are we missing when we ask the question, what do you want? And this is an important question to ask in a broad sense because if we're not evaluating what we care about, if we're not evaluating our values as human beings, as workers, in our personal lives and in our work lives, and the in-between gray areas, then it's very likely that we will develop regrets ultimately in our lives. So it makes sense to ask this question and it makes sense to spend some time answering it. But here's what we're missing. We're missing the nuance and the separation of the various questions that are built into this question of what do we want. I was a little bit of a complicated way of saying it's too broad. We need to ask more nuanced, more specific questions. When we ask what is it that you want, what we're really asking is what do you want a result of your actions to be? And here is where we end up with a much more interesting imperative. If we're trying to determine a, let's say, a plan for the next year, well, if we ask, what do we want our results to be? Then of course, we can back into the actions that would produce those results. The seems obvious and it's the basis for things like OKRs. But here's the part that is an obvious. When we look forward or when we're actually in the future that we are hoping to plan for, we can look at our actions and break them down into their nuanced positions as well. Instead of saying that was a good idea to participate in that particular activity or that was a bad idea, we wasted our time with that other activity. We can instead think more nuanced about our decisions and about our activities. And we're going to talk about how those things break down right after we talk about today's sponsor, ImageX. On today's episode, we're talking about results oriented thinking. We're talking about breaking things down into their nuanced kind of principles and their underlying structures. ImageX is a results oriented company. What you want is a simple API. What you want is to be able to manipulate your images and serve them fast to your users around the globe. These are the results that you want. Now, there's a bunch of ways you could get there. For example, you could spend a bunch of time and a bunch of money building your own image processing servers and trying to connect those to companies that only provide CDNs. But ImageX is a better way. This is a product that's made for developers. It has a super simple API. I know firsthand this API is one of the easiest I've personally ever used. And they have libraries for all major frameworks and languages. They offer a global image CDN. So you don't have to separate those concerns out. You don't have to have an image manipulation library and then pass that image off to something else. You can just rely on ImageX for all of it. This helps to developers deliver lightning fast sites and apps through automated image optimization and all of those different formats that responsive design is requiring now. ImageX has your back on that as well. It makes responsive design easy and development easy. Images are automatically optimized for every browser and device. And ImageX is not just used by me. I'm not the only person who will sing the praises of this awesome product. It's used by thousands of developers from companies like Unsplashed Kickstarter and Prismac. Go and check it out. Head over to ImageX.com slash Developer Tea. And here's the really critical part. Listen up to this part. ImageX.com slash Developer Tea. If you use that link and create a new account, you're going to receive $300 in account credit. It's $300. And we'll go a long way towards serving images to your customers. Go and check it out. ImageX.com that's imgx.com slash Developer Tea. So it's pretty easy to think about our goal setting processes, our planning processes, in terms of what we want as a result. And we can back our way into what kinds of actions could we take or what kinds of kind of proof would we need to have that that result has been met. And once again, this is kind of the basis of the OKR planning process. But that's not all there is to this discussion. How do we evaluate our actions when we are actually living out that future that we were trying to plan for so meticulously? How can we evaluate an ongoing basis actions that we're taking? We can break these down. OK, we can break our actions down because our actions are not as simple as just doing something. There's three parts that I want to talk about. Of course, this is just one model of thinking about action. These three parts are very simple. The first is the actual activity. This is the whatever the physical thing is that you're doing. And the movements that you're making, right, the real thing that you're doing in the world, that's the action. But before that is the intention. What is the intention of that action? And this is much more complicated than it might seem because you may have a stated intention or you may have an unstated intention or you might have some kind of chained intentions. You can ask yourself, why is it that I am getting up so early in the morning against my better hopes for comfort and laying in bed longer? Why am I waking up early and putting my tennis shoes on and going out for a run? Why would I subject myself to that kind of pain? Well, because I want to be healthy. That's what I want to do. Why do I want to be healthy? Because being healthy provides me with potentially a higher quality life in other areas, maybe more longevity, more healthy years where I'm not dealing with any disease. And so running is going to hopefully provide me with those things. But it's possible that you start with your stated intention of, I want to run this morning to meet my goal of running every day. And these are two different concepts. One is an intention that is directly met by some measurable thing. And the other one is an intention that is a more abstract idea. If you meet your weekly goal or whatever it is of running, what happens then? Well it contributes to your health. It contributes to better health. And so you can think about all of these things in terms of layers of abstraction on your intentions. And the thing that a lot of people miss about this is that actions do not always follow perfectly your best intentions. And wisdom tells us that our best laid plans often go out the window at the first sign of anything that goes wrong. And so if our plans or our intentions are not necessarily going to be followed by action, then the intentions end up being essentially irrelevant. But even if we do take action based on our intentions, they can still become irrelevant because there's a third part. And that's what comes after the action. Our intention may be clear and our action may be clear. We may believe that our particular action is going to carry us towards our intention. But then for one reason or another, it doesn't. The result is the third part. It seems really obvious. The action is in the middle, same which in the middle of the intention. And the result. So it's possible that your intention is to become healthier. And so you run every morning. And unfortunately, the unexpected result is that because you ran too much or maybe you ran too often early, you took on more stress than your body can handle. You injure yourself and thus you can't meet your goal. It's kind of going the opposite direction in fact of what your intention was. Now here's the really important lesson that I want you to take away from this episode. We need to recognize that what we care about the most is the through line of these three things. We care more about the intention being followed all the way through to the result. Whatever the action is in the middle is only relevant if it carries us from intention to result. Of course, this is a model of thinking. There are certain types of actions that have multiple benefits beyond just trying to mechanistically achieve a particular intent. There are certainly extraneous reasons when you might choose one action over another. This model is not necessarily about kind of that meditative process of just allowing yourself to be in that moment of the action and instead being focused on the through line of your intention to the result. But it still provides a framework for thinking around what actions might be valuable if my goal is ultimately the intention that I have set out to accomplish. And here's the incredible part of this. Much of our thinking is placed entirely on refining our actions. Performing the same actions that we believe are going to help over and over. Copying the actions of others. Without even setting an intention or most critically, without even measuring our results. And that measurement doesn't even have to necessarily be an objective measurement. We can subjectively measure our results. But often we don't take the time to measure those results in any way. And so we become caught up in the action part of what we're doing. Not in the kind of healthy meditative way that we were just talking about a second ago, but instead in the kind of aimless way. We believe that because we are taking action, good things will kind of find their way to us. Rather than saying our actions are often not always, but often a means to an end. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Hopefully this will help you think a little bit more about your intentioned actions and how you might measure your results so that you can choose your actions more deliberately. Thanks again to today's sponsor, Imgix. Remember you can go and get $300. $300. That's not like $30 or $3. It's $300 of account credit by heading over to Imgix.com that's IMGIX.com slash Developer Tea. That's all one word. Thanks again for listening to this episode. This episode and every other episode of Developer Teacan be found on spec.fm and pretty much any podcast provider that you're already using. This episode was produced by Sarah Jackson. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and until next time, enjoy your tea.