Testing Reality

A few years ago I began questioning everything I thought I knew: what I did, why I did it, how I did it. Central to my progress through these questions and the learnings they have precipitated and are still precipitating? Learning to ground – which is to say, connect to the world – and learning to shield – i.e., protect myself. I have spent most of my life in my head, using my ego as my protection against the world, and not (I now see) really experiencing that world at all. I knew I was good, and I knew I was talented, and I more or less ignored anyone who intimated differently.

I also more or less ignored myself. While I had immense self-confidence, I also had immense insecurities. I did not trust myself much either.

Grounding and shielding is helping me change all that. When I am truly connected to the Earth and truly protected from the world I can take life on my own terms rather than on everyone else’s. I can, for example, take time throughout my work day for mini-meditations. I feel comfortable processing information as it arrives and in a manner that works for me rather than when and how other people seem to expect. I take time to look inside myself and talk with all of my parts and show them that I do in fact care about them. I begin to integrate all of me back into the whole person I am meant to be.

As I progress with this I find myself enjoying myself more. Looking back at my life, I see that the times I felt most productive were also the times I was happiest, and the times I felt least productive were also the times I was unhappiest. (I also see strong correlations between when I felt happy, when I was doing what I thought needed to be done, and when my career seemed to be advancing rapidly; my unhappy periods correlate equally strongly with doing what other people seemed to want me to do and a stalled career. I find these correlations interesting.)

While this may not seem to have anything to do with testing, I find that it has everything to do with testing. I see testing – software in general, in fact – as a people problem. How I feel about myself directly affects how I interact with my feature team, with my peers, with my management, with my customers. The more I understand myself, integrate into myself, trust myself, ground, and shield, the better I understand and appreciate and feel at peace with where I am, and the more I find myself able to meet other people where they are, appreciate them for being there, and understand how to most effectively converse and interact with them. Everything seems to go more smoothly more of the time, and when it doesn’t I more quickly notice that something has gone off the rails and more easily get it back on track.

As I come to terms with myself I find my Best Option course is becoming more clear. No surprise, perhaps, that the more in tune with myself I am the more in tune with where I truly want – need – to go today I become. Making my Best Option decisions and taking my Best Option path is helping me increase my trust in myself, which helps me follow my Best Options even more closely, and so forth in a reinforcing cycle of the happiest kind. All of which helps me better understand how to Best Option test my feature.

This is working for me. Howsabout you? How do you identify and follow your Best Option at work and at play? Let me know!

*** Want a fun job on a great team? I need a tester! Interested? Let’s talk: Michael dot J dot Hunter at microsoft dot com. Great testing and coding skills required.

Comments (4)

  1. Paula says:

    Good for you in realizing the things you have realized and in trying to find a way to live and work that is not in conflict.  I also am working on letting the stress "roll-off" me and finding a zen-like way to work and live.  I like that you mentioned the ego in your post as although I’ve not thought of it much in relation to testing, in general it is my daily objective to move closer to that goal of letting completely go of the ego.

    Best Wishes to you on your journey.

  2. Joe Harter says:

    I can strongly relate to your words, and I hope that the day comes that I feel more grounded.  I see incongruence between my actions and my desires right now.  I know that when those two things are aligned I feel much happier.  I find that most of that comes right down to self-control in my case.  When I gain weight, put off projects around the house, or avoid uncomfortable discussions at work I am not a very happy person.  When I finally face those fears and control my eating I feel like a new person.

    I will say that "Becoming a Technical Leader" by Jerry Weinberg is helping a lot.  I like his section about rules and how to transform them.  Every day I seem to find a new rule that I follow for some reason, and I explore that rule to determine what the real motivation is behind it.

    Keep us posted on how you keep yourself "grounded" and "shielded".

  3. Indeed, Jerry’s "Becoming A Technical Leader" is required reading and understanding for anyone who believes there must be a better way. That better way, I am finding, comes closer and closer the more congruent I become with myself.

  4. It is only natural for someone to be not happy when what they do is not in accord with their core motivations. If that happens to me, I (attempt to) take action to avoid such a situation in the future and present more situations that do line up with my motivations/ goals.

    Rarely, I examine my core motivations and either tweak them or clarify them further.