This post is the fourteenth part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series are:
This post is about converting a negative spiral into a positive spiral.
I’m not big on modern trends. I don’t think I need to tell you that, just take a look at my hair (well, what’s left anyway) and the way I dress. I’m not into visualization per se, but I see some benefit in changing the stuff I can change. Namely, my attitude.
Years ago I found this blurb by Chuck Swindoll inspirational:
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.
It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past … we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitude.”
Andy’s Secrets to Happiness
If you look around at work and life in general, there’s plenty of things to discourage you. The above quote says to me “You have a choice about how you react.” Personally, I’ve made a conscious decision:
Don’t do misery.
I did some misery in the past and I think that’s enough for one lifetime. From here on out, no more. When life hands me lemons I give them to my lovely bride Christy (Blog – @ChristyLeonard) and she makes a tasty lemony dessert out of them. Also:
Do not let people live rent-free in your head.
Sorry, them’s the rules. If you’re in there you either need to pay up or move out.
A Large Shovel
I’ve had some success in life and career. Someone recently asked for my philosophy on getting along at work. It’s pretty simple: When I start a new gig I look for the biggest problem in the department. I search for the dirty work. Most of the time, I find helpful associates at the new gig who are more than willing to dump the garbage heap on the new guy – especially since he’s a Fat Guy With Facial Hair who sounds like Kermit the Frog would sound if Kermit were from the South.
What do I do once I’ve found or been assigned to this pile of dirty work? I start shoveling. I dig in and get dirty. I ask questions and write down the answers. I think about the problem. I ask others for their opinion and insight. I learn.
And then I solve the problem.
If I’m the n00b where you work and I just fixed something you’ve left sitting around for weeks or months or years, guess who now has their own fresh pile to start shoveling?
What’s more, you don’t have to be the newbie for this to work. You can start being a new you. You can do it tomorrow. Change your attitude. Watch what happens.
“Does This Work?”
Here are some metrics. In the past decade I’ve been hired a couple times by large companies. I’ve been promoted to manager both times. One time it took 93 days. The other promotion took less time. So yes, this works.
“Do You Do This All The Time?”
I am saddened to report to you that I do not. I occassionally get overwhelmed, lose my cool, and drop my shovel. I catch myself getting miserable and letting others live rent-free in my head.
As soon as I catch myself doing this, I stop. Nothing frees the mind like a 15-minute walk outside. I take a break and think about something else. And before I re-engage, I remind myself that life isn’t about the accumulated quantity of times-Andy-falls-down; life is a running sum of times-Andy-gets-up to times-Andy-falls-down, and that that total has just shifted back to it’s appropriate value: +1.
Maybe you don’t want to be a manager. That’s fine. But you do want to do a good job, don’t you? These days bonuses and raises are not a given; but how about someone recognizing your hard work?
The best part is elementary: Others can take your job, your position, and your stuff. No one can take your knowledge.