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Seeking a Disconnected Perspective

Published 10/25/2019

Finding perspective is a key component of this show and in today's episode, we're going to explore a visualization of perspective to help us get a more zoomed out perspective for our day-to-day work.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
We're going to start today's episode with a bit of a visualization. This isn't a meditation podcast or anything like that. Instead, we're going to use this visualization to hopefully gain a little bit of perspective. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Tea. My goal in this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. So here's the visualization. I want you to imagine wherever you are currently living. If this is a house or an apartment or maybe you're a nomad and you're staying at a flat somewhere, imagine that place. Now I want you to kind of imagine that you are zooming out above this place. Of course, as you go through the ceiling, you can no longer see the place where you actually live. You can only see the building. And as you continue zooming out, you can see the surroundings. Maybe you're neighbors, roofs or your yard or a street. And as you continue to zoom up and out, the place where you are from your perspective, at least, becomes smaller and smaller. You can see people in their daily activities kind of moving around. You can see the buildings and the vehicles, the homes, the businesses. And all of these things become smaller as you continue to zoom up. If you've ever taken a commercial flight, many of you probably have, you probably have an idea of what this picture looks like. And when you actually experience that, when you see the many different houses and you can actually in one frame, you can capture nearly the entire kind of living patterns of an entire city of people. This can be a profound perspective to gain. Because now I want you to imagine one individual person in that wide frame. Imagine the things that they're going through today. The personal struggles or the grief, the excitement, maybe the bills that they need to pay, the mortgage they have or maybe they're trying to pay off a car. And from that zoomed out frame, imagining that one individual and their experiences. If you're like most people from this zoomed out position, things start to feel different. Not that they pain or the struggle or even the celebration is smaller. But rather that it's passing. In some way, this distance that we create allows us to see the transitive nature of our struggles and our triumphs. For me personally, this visualization really hit home when I thought about all of the individual houses in my neighborhood and all of the people who spend the majority of their lives working to pay for those homes. Now again, this doesn't belittle the problems and the kinds of things that we care about. But rather it points out that in the day to day work and the day to day experiences that we have, it's easy to think in a zoomed in frame. It's easy to see. Sometimes literally only see our own struggles, only see our own environments, our own opinions. And when we can get outside of our environments, when we can move away from our own opinions, when we can get away from our own set of bills and struggles and triumphs, perhaps we can see what we're holding on to so tightly probably isn't nearly as substantive as we thought it was. We're going to take a quick break to talk about today's sponsor, Vetterie. Then we're going to talk about how you can institute a practice of this zooming out in your day to day work. Today's episode is sponsored by Vetterie. Vetterie is an online hiring marketplace that is changing the way that people hire and get hired. Access to Vetterie is exclusive. And once you're in the marketplace, top employers can view your profile and extend interview requests via email. Of course, your current employer will not be able to see your profile. Vetterie specializes in tech space. That means only software engineers, data scientists, product managers, etc. are being hired through Vetterie. You can set preferences for your desired location, your top skills, years of experience, professional background, and even salary requirements so that you'll receive interview requests only for the roles that perfectly match what you're looking for. Vetterie partners with over 20,000 companies from innovative startups to Fortune 500 firms across the United States, Canada, and the UK. And on top of all this, Vetterie is free to join. Sign up at Vetterie.com slash Developer Tea and you'll get a $300 bonus if you end up accepting a job through Vetterie. This also helps out the show. That's Vetterie.com slash Developer Tea. Thanks again to Vetterie for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So the visualization that we practiced in today's episode is not all that uncommon. And in a way, it is a visualization that gives you a literal new perspective, a physical change in your perspective to see things differently in the most literal sense. But we can do something very similar with our day to day work. This is kind of the point of retrospectives. Once you have some distance, it doesn't have to necessarily be physical distance. It can be time between you and an experience. When you have some disconnected position from that experience, if you're not actively experiencing it or the effects that come after that experience, you can look at that experience and evaluate it differently than you would during the experience. In some ways, you can evaluate this almost like a third party would. In other words, an observer, someone who isn't actually experiencing something, you can look back on your previous self and evaluate closer to the way that a third party person would. Of course, the water isn't totally clear. We don't have a perfect picture of how we evaluate our past and how our kind of biases and our self-protection mode and our ego can play into the way that we evaluate our past experiences. It certainly does, but it does in different ways than our present experience. A retrospective allows you to kind of put your mind back in that original experience, not with very low stakes, your mental simulation of that experience, and playing out different scenarios, different ways of acting can be incredibly valuable. Of course, we aren't perfect prediction machines, but we can evaluate our behavior for things that we wish we had done differently and then mentally encode some of the things that we're learning from these retrospectives. And kind of an oversimplified way, this is the process of learning from your mistakes or at least learning from your experiences. We should do the same kind of retrospective and evaluate the things that we did well. We can look at our behaviors that may have contributed to those positive outcomes. There is one important caveat to talk about when we're talking about retrospectives, we're talking about gaining perspective. And that is the idea that we may not be able to evaluate the past clearly. In fact, our ability to evaluate the cause and effect of some previous event is incredibly hindered, not only because we don't really know all of the factors and all of the random events, all of the ways that the stars align, so to speak, that contributed to a particular success or a failure, but also our memories are not necessarily reliable. When we access a memory, you've probably heard this, it's a popular fact now. When we access a memory, we are actually changing that memory to some degree. And so it makes sense to perform all of your retrospective, kind of perspective, gaining exercises with a big helping of salt. This on the things that you might adjust rather than deciding what factors led to what outcomes. This allows you to perform the most fundamental unit of learning. And that is iteration. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. A huge thank you to Veteri for sponsoring today's episode. Head over to veteri.com slash Developer Teato get started today and you'll get that $300 bonus if you end up getting hired through veteri. Thank you so much for listening. Today's episode wouldn't be possible without a speck out of him and our wonderful producer, Sarah Jackson. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and until next time, enjoy your tea.