Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Running away

Weinberg (see "Why the Chambered Nautilus") asks some hard (for me, anyway) questions. Here are related questions from the chapter "The second great obstacle to motivating others" that are hard for me.

  • What type of situation do you typically escape from? What is your typical escape pattern?
  • When was the last time you tried to convert some task to a technical task of a type you were better equipped to do? What happened?
He actually asks them in the opposite order and with some other questions between. I put them in this order because the second question illustrates one escape pattern for me.

I am uncomfortable in situations that require self examination. That is one reason I started this blog/journal. Hmm.... I just had a thought. When I was presented with the suggestion to journal daily, I decided to create a blog. Is that an example of converting "some task to a technical task..."?

I did get to spend some time picking a name for my blog, deciding on a look, and so on. I got to search for a nice picture of a chambered nautilus, although I haven't yet figured out how to put it into the masthead. That'll be a job for another day when I'm feeling uncomfortable with the writing task I've set myself for the day.

After some thought, I do see a pattern. Let's say I need to put together a design for a software component or system. That means that I have to think about things like use cases and workflow. I could get out a piece of paper and start writing and sketching. But my first inclination is to open up a design application instead. And if I don't have one, I might spend a few hours or a day finding, download, and installing one. Yes, the diagrams that I make with such a tool can be shared electronically, and they're more readable than my paper scratchings might be. But I think that's really not the point. The point is to turn a task I'm less comfortable with into one I'm more comfortable with. Maybe by the time I get the new application figured out, I'll also have a better idea how to solve the original problem. Or, maybe I won't.

In the broadest sense, I try to escape from situations that move me outside my comfort zone. I can do this by procrastinating, by "converting" the task into one with which I'm more comfortable, and by deciding that need to first get some new tools before I can tackle this new task.

Your homework: how would you answer the questions with which I started this post?

No comments: