The quality of your options is determined by the quality of your inputs. If your decisions have no good options, consider what the source of those options is.
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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
You've probably heard the conventional wisdom you are the average of the people that you hang out with. Another version of this is you are the average of the seven people you spend the most time with. In today's episode, we're going to break down really why that is. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. I want you to think about the last big difficult decision that you made. If you had to codify the way that you made that decision. In other words, what kinds of things did you do in the process of making the decision? Where did you gather information from? How did you weigh, for example, maybe the pros versus the cons? The upsides versus the downsides, the risks versus the reward, the investment versus the return. All of these things are ways of trying to predict and get your mind wrapped around a decision. Most specifically, I want you to think about who you talked to about this decision. The people we talk to, the people we get advice from, we bounce ideas off of, the people that we observe and implicitly get advice from their actions. We get advice from the model that they lay out for us. This part of the decision process is the limiting factor on the rest of it. We're going to talk about why, right after we talk about today's sponsor. Building and maintaining mobile applications is not simple. Bugs, crashes and performance issues can be a nightmare for developers. What if you could not only detect and dissect these issues, but also get a holistic understanding of your app's performance? With InstaBug, you can. Through comprehensive bug and crash reports, performance monitoring and real-time user feedback, InstaBug gives you the visibility you need to build top quality apps. Serve and fix issues like UI hangs, slow app launches and screen loads, network failures and anything else that may be affecting your user's experiences. Get a quick read on their impact on your users and access all of the granular data relevant to the issue in seconds so you can prioritize, assign and debug before your next update release. It only takes a minute to integrate InstaBug's SDK into your app and it fits right into your workflow with integration support for Gira, Slack, Trello, GitHub, Zendesk and many more. Stop flying blind on your mobile app issues and try InstaBug today. Head over to InstaBug.com and get the visibility you need to start delivering superior app performance and better user experience. I want you to take out your pen and paper, your note taking device, whether that's your phone or your computer, a sticky note, whatever you take notes with. What should write this down? It's the most important part of this episode. The quality of your options is determined by the quality of your inputs. The quality of your options is determined by the quality of your inputs. I want to be very clear about something here. When I say quality in this sense, I don't necessarily mean how good or bad the options are. Options sometimes are neither good nor bad. They're just different. When I say the quality, what I mean is the characteristics, the variety of characteristics then would be determined by the variety of your inputs. Hopefully you can kind of see where this is going. If the people around you have a major influence on your decision making process, it's in this specific way. Your inputs, that is, the people around you, the things that you are consuming, maybe the books that influence you. This is an indirect influence that an author may have on somebody reading a book from them. But the inputs that you surround yourself with, the strongest ones being the people that you talk to directly, you seek advice from, secondarily, the things that the media you consume and that kind of thing, these kinds of inputs determine the characteristics of what you believe are your options. The truth is, if you were to actually enumerate all of your options in a given scenario, you'd have so many options that you probably would be paralyzed. You wouldn't be able to make a decision in that situation. But I would say that more often than not, the number of options we put in front of ourselves is drastically limited. This is a local maximum problem. Without being able to exhaust most or all possible options, we can't really know which one would be optimal for our situation. More conventional wisdom from our own industry tells us that when we have garbage in, we get garbage out. Meaning, our inputs, if they are faulty, if they are low quality, are going to produce a low quality output. In this case, I am talking about not optimal. So here's your homework. Since we know that the quality of our options are determined by the quality of our inputs, it makes sense to consider our inputs. Specifically, I want you to run a couple of audits in your personal life and run an audit on both the media you consume as well as the people that you spend your time listening to. Now, notice I'm not necessarily talking about people that you spend your time being with. Though the people that you do spend time with will probably have a profound impact on the way you see the world. That said, you can run an audit like this and intentionally seek out inputs that will improve your options. Think about it like this. If the problem is a local maximum problem, perhaps the solution is to get away from the local. In other words, get more variety in your inputs, get more variety in the kinds of people, the media sources that you're listening to. I do want to be very careful here because this may come across as me saying that in order to become extremely successful, you should only listen to the advice of successful people. This is not necessarily true. Sometimes, a successful person is successful by pure chance. Instead, what I am recommending is that you broaden your options. If you find your options narrowing, or if many people are providing to you very similar advice, it's tempting to believe that because you're getting very similar advice from multiple people, that that's confirming the advice that you've already gotten. In other words, the advice seems to be more correct, the more people that tell you the same thing. But if you're a listener to this podcast, you know that we try to look at things from a slightly different angle. In this case, I want you to consider convergence of opinion to be a little bit of a yellow flag. When people's opinions converge, it likely means that those people have a lot in common. So the variety of your inputs is going to be low. Think about the advice that you receive, the advice that you listen to, and also the media you consume, consider it a well-balanced diet. In other words, you don't just eat one thing on a well-balanced diet. If you're continuously seeing the same thing on your plate, getting the same advice over and over, then you're probably going to be low. Probably not getting enough variety in that diet. This is not a hard and fast rule. It's only a heuristic for you to kind of gauge whether or not you have convergence of opinion and therefore a lack of variety. And that exercise, I essentially am going to leave up to you. This is a hard thing to do. It's hard to know how to get good advice from the right people. But one thing remains pretty much universally true. If you are afraid of getting advice from multiple people, if you are afraid of getting conflicting advice, it makes sense to track down the source of that fear. Are you seeking for somebody to confirm what you already believe, where you're already leaning towards, or are you actually looking to make a good, optimal decision? Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. A huge thank you to today's sponsor, InstaBug. Building and maintaining mobile applications is not simple. Through comprehensive bug and crash reports, performance monitoring, and real-time user feedback, InstaBug gives you the visibility you need to build top quality apps. Head over to InstaBug.com and get the visibility you need to start delivering superior app performance and better user experience. If you enjoy today's episode and you want to hear more, we have quite the back catalog. Over a thousand episodes of this show exist. Go and subscribe and whenever podcasting app you're currently using so you don't miss out on future episodes. Of course you can peruse those back catalog ones as well. This community is about you. That's why we started the Developer Tea Discord community to mirror and discuss these episodes. Only this is the beginning of the discussion, you can carry it forward by heading to developertea.com slash discord. Joining that community is totally free and it always will be. There's other like-minded engineers that are there to talk with you pretty much all the time. So go and check it out. It's developertea.com slash discord. Thanks so much for listening. Until next time, enjoy your tea.