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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
We're going to do something a little bit different today. We're going to start out with a quote, goes like this. Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times, although such experiences can also be enjoyable if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits, in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is, thus, something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she is built, higher than any she has built so far. For a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person, there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves. This quote comes from, me high, chick sent me high, the author of flow, the psychology of optimal experience. Then in today's episode, I want to talk about reframing and thinking about your negative experiences and finding the good in those situations. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. And the perspective that you have on a negative experience is critical to your ability to both respond to that negative experience and to grow. So in other words, in the moment, in the moment, being able to respond, and then in the future, once you've had this experience, being able to take advantage of that experience, not just to move away from it as quickly as possible, but instead to use it as yet another building block for success in the future. In virtually every experience you have, in almost every experience you have, if you change your frame of reference, if you look at that experience from a different point of view, it could be something that you are relating, right? You are connecting to this thing in a particular way and you are adding information to make it a negative experience. Or it could simply be a change in perspective. We'll talk about that a little bit more practically, but in virtually every experience you have, there is a positive side. When I say positive, I mean beneficial or in some way preferable, something that you could identify as desirable, a good thing. Now defining that is not really the goal of this episode. Instead, it's to help you try to see that not every single part of a given circumstance is going to be fully negative. Let's take a very simple example and we'll stay out of our kind of practical engineering examples to begin with here. Very simple example is my son actually recently started playing sports. He plays on a T-ball team and they don't have wins and losses yet, but I imagine that soon in a couple of years he will be on a team where they track the runs and they actually have some kind of competition and wins and losses. Now I can imagine as a parent or even as the child experiencing a loss and seeing nothing good in it, seeing nothing positive about that loss. There's many ways that we can find something positive in something even as simple as losing a basically zero stakes game. The easiest, most obvious thing is the inverse perspective. So the inverse perspective in this case is the other team. The other team has just experienced a win. Now this seems like a cheat code in some ways. Of course, because you are not the other team, your experience is your own. So you could say, well, you're not really describing my experience anymore. You're not really describing whether my experience is positive or negative. But here's the important thing to recognize. Important thing to recognize is that our experiences are moments in time and our perception or our perspective on those experiences are moments in time and on into the future. And as we reflect on events from the past, our situation changes and our situation, meaning the way we are situated with relation to that event changes. Even if only separated by time, our relationship to a former event, a past event changes. This is why we often hear people telling stories about things that happened to them in the past. And they'll say, I didn't know it at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. The very least as I'm standing here now, I remember losing ball games as a kid. And I'm separate from them now to the point that it doesn't really have any effect at all on me. And yet it's positive or negative. It's almost an external event that didn't even happen to me because I feel so disconnected from those experiences. And this is in fact one of the kind of techniques that you can use, the distancing technique, where you try to put some kind of space, even if imaginary, between yourself and the event. And so as you move away from an event, that you might consider negative, you can find the space to see it in perspective. In other words, you're going to kind of zoom out a little bit and try to see the event that occurred as if you were watching it happen to someone else. Now, this isn't to say that you should disconnect from it emotionally, but instead you're trying to balance your view. Your view has been deeply internal or inside the event because you experienced it firsthand. But there's a whole other or many other views that you could take. And so by trying to take a little bit more of an outside view or a zoomed out perspective, you are balancing your viewpoint. So you can see things a little bit more clearly when you balance both things together. We're going to take a quick sponsor break and then we're going to come back and talk about how we can see the positive in the negative. If you more kind of exercises or practical ways to try to actually do that. And then what it means for our future, how do we convert this moment into a building block for the future? But first let's talk about today's sponsor, Retool. Developer Tea is supported by retool. We're working with thousands of startups, retool noticed that technical founders spend a ton of time building internal tools, which means less time on their core product. So they built a retool for startups, a program that gives early stage founders free access to a lot of the software that you need for great internal tooling. The goal is to make it 10 times faster to build the admin panels, the crud apps and dashboards that most early stage teams need. We bundle together a year of free access to retool with over $160,000 in discounts to save you money while building with software commonly connected to internal tools like AWS, MongoDB, Brex segment. You can use your retool credits to build tools that join product and billing data into a single customer view or convert manual workflows into fully featured apps for your team. You can even build tools that help non-technical teammates read and write to your database, and there's so much more. Retool will give you a head start with a pre-built UI, integrations and other advanced features that make building from scratch much faster. To learn more, check out the site, apply, join webinars and much more at retool.com slash startups. That's RETOL.com slash startups. Thanks again to retool for their support of Developer Tea. I want you to think of a negative event. I'm trying to make it kind of a small negative event. We don't want to talk about major events like losing a job or something like that. I want to talk about more kind of everyday type of negative event. Now I want you to intentionally find something good. Now this doesn't mean that you have to manufacture something good. I want it to be a genuine, true, good thing. Knowing that you can actually say the positive that came from this was very apparent or it was clear that this particular part of this was not bad. The goal here is to find some piece of good in that negative experience. Here's an alternate version of this practice, an alternate version of this little exercise. Think about a negative event very similarly, something that is relatively small, but something that you do actually care about. It's something that is small, but you care about. Try to imagine the best time, the best situation for that thing to occur. Let's imagine that you have no choice. This thing must occur, but what is the best situation for it to occur in? What you're doing is you're basically kind of training your brain to look for things that are outside of the circumstance itself. It's something that is external to the event that is surrounding the event. Here's the point of this exercise and how this integrates into your life moving forward. Events don't stand alone. Something that we experience is connected to everything else that we experience in terms of our ongoing experience as human beings. In other words, every event that you have is not distinct and separate from the very next moment. The circumstances that wrap those events are one and the same. They are not distinct. They don't have container lives, the hours that pass don't pass on their own. They flow into each other. This is important because as you think about the negative things that happen to you, you can't divorce that thinking from all of this surrounding circumstance, all of the things that happen before, then all of the things that will happen in the future. When you have that negative event, if your goal is to move forward, not try to fast forward and certainly not to dwell in that former moment in the past, but to move forward with some kind of intention. I want you to be able to look at that negative moment and see what is good from it. You don't, again, don't manufacture this, don't try to convince yourself that something was good when it wasn't. But instead, consider the upsides. Consider how the situation presented itself in a way that was actually beneficial to you. At the very least, and if you can't find something positive in a negative event, there is some experience that you've had now in every experience that you have is a way to learn something. Not in a cheesy or kind of forced, constructed way, but for you to actually learn how you respond to watch yourself in those moments, to see how you deal with those negative events. So that the next time that something happens, you can use that former experience and prepare yourself. And as you think through what those positive things are, I want you to next decide what do I do about this? What do I do about this? If you are stuck thinking about the past, then there's nothing to do because you're essentially living this kind of virtualized life. You're not paying attention to what's happening now. And if you're trying to fast forward, then you're also kind of paralyzed from action. Because fast forwarding is trying to kind of check out and pass the time as quickly as you can to avoid dealing with the emotions that you have from that negative event. But if instead you're present and you're willing to look at the thing that you just experienced, find the good in it, and then decide what am I willing to do about this? What do I do about this? This moment when you're asking yourself this question is the most critical moment to taking the thing that would have otherwise been negative and turning it into something positive for yourself. I do want to be very clear about something here. Sometimes bad things happen that we can't control. That sometimes finding the good in that bad thing takes years and might take our whole lives. Sometimes finding the good might even stoke more pain, more frustration, or more fear. The goal of what I'm saying here is not to downplay the importance of that grieving process, downplay the difficulty or the pain that you might go through. Instead, my goal is to help you determine, commit to not letting those things happen in vain. Don't let that pain be there for no reason to learn from it and to be able to move forward. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. This episode certainly sits squarely in the finding perspective part of our mission on this show. Thank you again for listening to Developer Tea. Thank you to today's sponsor, Retool. You can find out more about Retool for Startups, which is particularly important for those of you who are in a startup. Head over to retool.com slash startups to get started today. If you have questions that you would like for me to think about and then possibly answer on this show, you can ask those questions directly to me by either emailing me at email@example.com, but the better way and a more conversational way to do it is in the Developer Tea Discord. It's totally free to join when we're never going to charge for anything that we do in the Discord community. Head over to developertea.com slash discord to join today. Thanks so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.