Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Power of Hindsight and Critical Mindset

Disclaimer: this story is roughly based on true events but this didn't happen in this format. All pieces on their own are real, but as a flow they are purely a depiction of my imagination. 

I was chipping away work, just like we do. A lot of the work was pull requests, code changes. Because, without changing something in what we deliver, nothing changes for the people who matter: our users.

Adding the thing was giving me pain. Not the physical kind of pain, but I could recognize the heavy feeling on the back of my head, it wasn't just going to go easy. And since I wanted my pull request to be small and done, and it was working just not pretty the way I like, I made a pull request: "a temporary solution" I labeled it.

I went home, relaxed, didn't think about it. Back at office, I got help from lovely colleagues, hit my head against a few more walls but at least this time I was not schedule pressed nor alone, and eventually I was again doing a pull request.

And again. And again. And again.

The flow of making small changes made me lose sight of all the things I had done. I had received feedback, but I didn't remember any of it. Did any of it change me for the future work I did? I really didn't know.

Like a person with a question, I wanted to answer my question. Jumping into the tooling, I started of a Jenkins job to summarize all the changes I had done in 2019.

Instinctively, I first counted the lines and jumped to judgement. If the number was big, I primed myself in seeing that perhaps I just did everything twice and did not remember. If the number was small, I wondered where my life went when this was the track I left behind.

Similarly, I eyed on the title lines. That already responded to my concerns on doing everything twice, because while each pull request had moved on its own though the systems into the masses of forgotten details, the titles represented what I had wanted to say about the thing as one liner back when I still had it in my fresh memory.

With numbers and titles, ideas of patterns started to evolve. But I wasn't done. There was a third level of remembering I needed, which was the comments I was getting as a timeline. Was I always reminded of the same thing, like leaving the salami pizza box on the living room floor, only to be kindly reminded it wasn't it place over and over again? If I created taxonomy of my feedback in hindsight, what would that teach me?

In the moment, if I would stop analyzing my actions with my most critical mindset, I would be paralyzed, too afraid to do things. But doing the same thing in hindsight, in cadence, as if I was looking at someone else (and sometimes, looking at someone else to have a comparison point), is invaluable.

Own your own learning. Never become the person the team always tells of the pizza box. Even if they created a linter for that purpose. Think, learn, and try something different. Fail because it is a First Attempt In Learning.

Don't wait for your manager to do this, know your own signature first.


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