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I earned my rope!

Dear Reader,

A picture of a short length of nylon rope

That is MY rope. I EARNED my rope.  As part of my PADI Dive Master Certification (yes, the same training that almost kicked my butt) I had to learn to tie several knots and to successfully tie them underwater. My instructor handed each of us a piece of rope as he cut it off of a much longer piece. When asked, he replied that he gives every student a piece of HIS rope so they can learn.

In tech, we don’t celebrate individual’s wins as much as we should. When I was running a team, at every quarterly team lunch, I would hand out custom made badges that were modeled after the old Texas Ranger badges. Texas Rangers motto is (or used to be) “One problem, one Ranger”, so when one of my developers tackled a problem and completed it, they earned their badge. This wasn’t a participation award, you had to earn it.

Managers, take time to celebrate an individual’s wins. Even if they give it the “Aw shucks, it was a team effort” they need to see that you recognized their efforts and appreciate it.

Let your developers earn THEIR rope.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
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Humility: Part 2

Dear Reader,

In Humility: Part 1, I talked about a recent event that humbled me. In Part 2, I want to share another event that has shaken me and in this case, shaken a lot of arrogance out of me.

I am a Scuba Diver. In doing the work to earn my PADI Dive Master Certification, I was humbled yet again.

Part of the test is the “Dive Master Complex Problem”. I will not describe the problem, but a team of candidates have to solve a problem, underwater.

In 10 years of diving, I have always been comfortable with my skills. I’ve done things that pushed the rules before, but never anything that pushed me mentally and physically beyond my limits. The “Dive Master Complex Problem” pushed me past my limits. Even though I was in a pool and in less than 6 ft of water, I twice panicked and shot to the surface.

For someone who prides himself in his diving abilities, it was truly a humbling experience. It has fundamentally changed my outlook on diving and on my skill level.

Humility is a good thing. I’ve come through this test (Yes, I passed. No, not with flying colors)  and I am a better diver for it. If I decide to go for my Instructor’s Certification, I know that this lesson will shape how I teach people to dive. Yes, diving can literally be a life or death situation when things go wrong. Now, because I have been a panicked diver, I really understand that.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Humility: Part 1

Dear Reader,

I suffer from an overabundance of confidence. Two events though have shaken that recently. First, I was fired.

Many men of my era have their identity wrapped up in being a productive member of society and being the provider for their family. Being fired shook me to my core. Especially being fired as a developer, my primary vocation.

It has taken me a long time to come to grips with this event. At first it was humiliating. I’m not saying it is not still, but I am learning  to accept it, to get back up on my feet, to start moving forward again.

Humiliation is a good thing. It has forced me to take a long hard look at myself.  I know I will get a job again, I will be contributing again, and I will once again be providing for my family. I know that this too will pass. But I want the person that comes through this trial to be a better person than the one that went in.

If not, that means I did not learn, I did not grow, and I will be here again.

Until next time
I <3 |<

I’m mad

Dear Reader,

I am pissed off…at myself.

Recently, I got a call from a recruiter. She gave me her name and company, then asked me about the weather. She jokingly berated me for my answer. It threw me off.

Then, without warning, she launched into a critique of my resume. I won’t go into the details but suffice to say that the conversation went downhill quickly.

After the second time I apologized because she said “There’s no call to get snippy with me” – I honestly did not think I had – I explained that I really didn’t feel the need to be lectured today by a recruiter. (This time I was snippy) I thanked her for her time and curtly hit the end-call button.

The whole call made me mad. The more I thought, the madder I got. As I was sitting there stewing, I began to realize why. I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at myself. I was mad because I had let her get under my skin. I was mad because I reacted poorly.

I cannot control what people do to me, but I dang sure can control how I respond to their actions. I reacted badly, that made me mad.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

I teach…

Dear Reader,

My mother was a school teacher. My father ran music education programs for every church at which he worked. I was raised to think that it is normal to help others understand the things that I do.

That’s why it’s really no surprise that when my career took a left turn in 2006 and I started working on ways to educate developers, I took to it like a duck to water.

As I’ve talked about before, I try and stick to the things I am qualified to teach, PHP, MySQL, programming, and building teams. These are the things that I know. These are the things that I understand well enough so that I can share with others.

It’s not just my vocation to teach developers, it is my passion. I want to help the current generation of developers become better developers, and I want to help raise up the next generation of developers.

I teach because I know something other’s don’t.
My unique perspective on a problem is something that others with the same problem may not have considered.

I teach to elevate others.
If I can bring developers to my level, then it is easier for them to climb to the next level, and bring me up.

I teach, because it makes me happy. 
By helping people, I work to make my corner of the world a little better.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
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