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Strong Opinions Weakly Held

Published 7/24/2017

In today's episode, we talk about a simple concept of being willing to let go of your opinions, while not watering them down.

Today's episode is brought to you by Linode. Linode Provides superfast SSD based Linux servers in the cloud starting at $5 a month. Linode is offering Developer Tea listeners $20 worth of credit if you use the code DEVELOPERTEA2017 at checkout. Head over to spec.fm/linode to learn more about what Linode has to offer to Developer Tea listeners !

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
I want to start today's episode out by affirming what is probably kind of an uncomfortable reality. And that is that pretty soon you're probably going to experience failure. And you probably have a recently experienced failure. Sometimes the failure comes in a form that is even difficult to identify. You may have experienced failure recently without even realizing it. One of the things we do as humans is we try to wrap our failures in explanation. In today's episode, I want to help you embrace this reality of failure. And even more than that, I want to create an environment where you are more able to recognize and affirm these failures. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Tea. And of course, we're talking about failure. But more than that in today's episode, we're talking about opinions. And this is something that I've learned probably more as I go through my career. And it's something that has changed kind of continuously. I've gotten more and more away from what I used to be and more towards what I'm hoping to present to you today as the future goal, this attitude towards failure. And it's really, it's wrapped up more in the way that we carry ourselves than it is in the failure itself. You know, the failure is kind of a constant. It's going to happen. And it is a part of the learning process. We refine when we fail. We take that failure, we feed it back into our learning system. We use our brain to identify failures and then get better from those failures. This is something we've talked about on the show. Hopefully it's not a novel concept to you. But something that we have a hard time doing is recognizing those failures and recognizing those shortcomings. I was placed out in a particularly strange way that I'd like to point out really explicitly today. And that is through the sharing of opinions, through the sharing of opinions, so you may be asking, how can we not be recognizing our failures through the sharing of opinions? There's a few things here that I want to point out. There's a phrase and I'm not really sure of the origin of it doing a little bit of Google research. I couldn't quite find the actual origin of the phrase. And a lot of developers actually bring this phrase up when they're talking about various ways of accomplishing a particular goal with code. And that is strong opinions loosely held or strong opinions weekly held. What does this phrase mean? What do we mean when we say strong opinions weekly held? Well, it turns out that perhaps the most valuable thing you can do in your job is be honest. Be honest about what you think. Be honest about your opinions. Be honest when you think something could be better. This is the only way that you're going to refine the work that you do and help others refine the work that they do. When you're collaborating, be honest about how you feel about that collaboration. And why isn't this something that we do? That's what we're going to talk about right after we talk about today's incredible sponsor, Linode. Linode is providing developers like you with servers that are super fast. They have tons of memory per dollar that you spend. And it's going to be the most flexible thing that you can imagine using. The reason for that is because it's built on top of Linux and it's deployable in just a few minutes. So imagine just deploying a bunch of computing power in just a few minutes, a couple of button clicks and then organizing all of that computer computing power in ways that you're already used to because most developers already are using Linux for their servers. This is what Linux provides. Now they also have eight data centers. So things are going to be located geographically close to you. That means there's going to be not very much latency at all wherever you are. Now the part that I think a lot of developers don't understand about Linode is that it's very easy for you as a developer to get started on Linode, even if you are kind of strapped for cash, right? It's $5 for their introductory plan. And that gets you a gigabyte of RAM on a Linode server. And remember, Linode uses SSDs for their server. So it's super fast data writing and reading as well. So basically you get the super capable server for $5 a month and on top of that, Linode is providing you as a Developer Tealistener with $20 worth of credit for using the code Developer Tea2017. Linode has been probably one of our most consistent sponsors on this show. They care about the development community. Go and check out what Linode has to offer to you as a Developer Tealistener by going to spec.fm slash Linode. Thank you again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode and many other episodes of this show. So why do we not want to share our opinions? Why do we not want to have strong opinions? Right? We already kind of hinted at this. The strong opinions weekly held. And we're talking about failure. And so why is it that we have difficulty sharing our opinions? You know, this is a very common scenario. Somebody is sharing their opinion and another person shares an opposing opinion. Now the reality is usually those opinions, one of them is right and one of them is wrong. Or at least one of them is degrees of better than the other. Right? It may not be necessarily a binary thing, but one may be a better idea than the other. It does this mean that the person with the second idea, if we don't yet know which one is better, does it mean that one person or the other one should just stop having that idea or stop having that opinion? And this is where we end up so many times in our jobs, especially if we have a differing opinion from someone who is either an authority over us. This also often happens with clients. It happens with people who are relatively new in their jobs and some of this has some psychological backing. We don't want to rub people the wrong way. We don't want to be adversarial. So what is it that causes us to back down? Why do we lose our opinions? And so often we don't share them. And the reason for this is because of this fear of failure and ultimately because of the attaching of that opinion to the failure itself. Right? So if my idea fails, then I myself have become a failure in the eyes of my peers. And here's the antidote. This is what I want you to take away and something that is so very important to understand. When you have an idea, you must be able to separate the confidence and the excitement that you have in that idea with the reality of the presence of the possibility for failure. Let me say that again and hopefully boil it down a little bit more. If you have an idea, there is always the possibility that that idea could fail. And what you have to be able to do is represent that you are aware of the possibility of failure in your own idea. You have to present this idea in a way that says, yes, I know that I could be wrong, but this is what I think. What so often happens unfortunately is that people are using the confidence that they have in their own ideas to present them in a way that feels irrefutable. It feels as though the idea is absolutely going to succeed no matter what. That's kind of the opposing group. The people who don't want to share their opinions have probably already heard an opinion from someone who felt very strongly about it. And unfortunately, because one person has either strong opinions strongly held or another person decides to make their one strong opinion weak, a weak opinion strongly held, then we get a lack of diversity of ideas. And so the thing that could have been a better idea or the thing that could have been a more valuable failing, failing idea, more valuable failure for you to learn from, that ends up being diminished. So the action step that I want you to take here, I want you to be vocal with your ideas. I want you to be vocal with your opinions, vocal about the things that you think and feel. But I want you to pair that vocality. I want you to pair that honesty with a sense of humility. In other words, I want you to pair what you are saying about your opinion with a sense of sobertness, if you want to call it that, with a sense of self-awareness and humility, that your ideas, even though you hold on to them very strongly, your ideas could fail and that you're not going to hold on to a failing idea, that those strong opinions that you have are weakly held. When you find out, if you find out that they are going to fail, that you're willing to move on, you're willing to adapt and change those ideas. This is a powerful sentiment. The idea that you're going to believe in something very strongly, but you're also willing to listen to reason. You're not going to turn your eye to failure. You're not going to make excuses for failure. You're not going to cover up those failures, but rather when failure occurs, because once again, failure will occur at some point. When failure occurs, you will recognize and learn from that failure, and those strong opinions will change. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developertee. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. I so much appreciate those of you who listen to this show on a weekly basis. We have three episodes that go out every week, and I love knowing that so many of you are enjoying this show. If this is your first episode, I encourage you to go back and listen to previous episodes of this show that peak your interest. You can search the episodes on spec.fm and find keywords and that kind of stuff. Thank you so much for listening to this show. Thank you again to Linode for sponsoring Developertee. You can get $20 of credit on Linode. It's four months, by the way, on their lowest plan, four months of service, two months of service on the next up plan. It's pretty good. Go and check it out, spec.fm slash Linode. Use the code Developertee 2017 and check out for that $20 of the credit. Thank you so much for listening to Developertee and until next time, enjoy your tea.