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Take a deep breath

Dear Reader,

I had a student recently getting her open water certification who had never put on a pair of fins before.

She struggled with skills as we practiced them. No matter what, she was just not getting it.

At one point, as we were in the deep end of the pool, she had a panic attack. Luckily, we were all on the surface.

As I corralled the other students and kept them busy practicing their skills, the instructor worked with her. He had her lie on her back and float. He kept telling her very calmly, just take a deep breath.

It worked. It took about 10 minutes to calm down. This was a turning point for her for the day.

Not only did she complete all the skills after that properly, she did so while remaining neutrally buoyant and off the bottom of the pool. Performing the skills is one thing, doing it while being able to hover 3 to 5 feet off the bottom is an order of magnitude harder for new divers.

She was able to do all of this because she paused, cleared her mind, and took a deep breath or two.

Until next time,

I <3 |<
=C=

Burger With Relish And Fries

Dear Reader,

In diving we teach BWRAF. It’s a memory device for the checklist a diver has to go through before they dive.

  • Burger = BCD/Buoyancy
  • With = Weights
  • Relish = Releases
  • And = Air
  • Fries = Friend

Once your gear is setup, you run the checklist. The first 4 points remind you how to check your gear. The last one reminds you to check your dive buddy’s gear as well.

Why bother? Because underwater, if something goes wrong, people can literally die. To keep us safe, those that have been diving for a long time have learned that checking your gear before each dive can literally save lives. So we drill BWRAF into student divers until they are sick of hearing they instructor say it.

In programming, we have BWRAF concepts like this. SOLID, DRY, etc. We don’t teach them because we enjoy acronyms, we teach them because the concepts are important to a successful and maintainable project.

When programmers decide the wisdom of the previous generation is not worth learning, they are like divers who dive without first reciting BWRAF.

Sure, it’s possible that things will be ok, but are you willing to bet your project on it?

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

Proficent

Dear Reader,

Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong.

— Unknown

In scuba diving, the skills a student learns are important, they could save their life. New divers are taught skills to “proficiency”, they can successfully perform the skill on-demand. They can’t teach others, but they can save their life, or the life of another diver.

When training Dive Masters, it is a different story. Dive Masters have to be able to perform a skill to to “exemplary”, they have to be able to perform the skill so well that the presentation is an example to other divers. Then, and only then, can they begin to teach that skill to others.

Tech on the other hand, has the mantra of “the best way to learn a new skill is to teach it”. It is fine to present to others what you have built or learned, and inspire them to experiment with your ideas. This is proficiency. This however, is not teaching. Teachers should be able to perform to exemplary, not simply to proficiency.

Learn your important skills – life and career – to exemplary. Then – and only then – go out and teach them to others.

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