Weeknotes 416 Feb 2021
I may be a day late writing this post, but as I get to chose the filename, I’m putting yesterday’s date on it and this little indiscretion will be long forgotten. Assuming I don’t highlight it in the opening paragraph.
It’s half term so the kids are at home, playing with each other and annoying each other. We’re going for walks around the town when it isn’t raining too hard. And plenty of Animal Crossing is being played. It’s much like term time - just with a lot fewer English and Maths lessons sprinkled through the day.
I’ve been focussed on getting Node-RED 1.3 ready to release. The plan had been to get it done by the end of January - trying to keep up a milestone release every 3 months. The problem with having a plan like that is if you don’t have the people helping to do the work, then things take longer.
There’s a particular feature we’ve been talking about for a long time - well over a year. It’s not a feature I’m particularly enthusiastic for, but I can see why its needed.
It’s also the sort of feature that needs prolonged focus and attention to get right and one that a design on paper can only get you so far.
That’s where I’ve unexpectedly found myself over the last couple weeks - reworking the initial draft implementation to fill in the missing pieces of the design.
There was a part of the design that I had originally pushed back on and suggested a different approach was needed. On last week’s twitch stream, I talked through some of the design challenges of this feature. In doing so, I released the source of those challenges came from the part I had pushed back on - the original proposed approach was actually closer to what was needed, although still not ideal.
It was a good reminder that being totally heads down on something can mean you miss the bigger picture. Spending that time to step back and talk through a problem can make a real difference.
Fixed vs Growth Mindsets
I was sent a link to this article about Carol Dweck’s work on how your mindset can affect the outcome of what you do.
It talks about there being two types of mindset. A fixed mindset is resistant to change, avoids conflicts and obstacles, and prefers to stick to the path well trodden. Conversely, a growth mindset is one that embraces change, is persistent in the face of setbacks and recognises that hard work is needed to a achieve goals.
A fixed mindset leads with a desire to look smart - hence the tendency to avoid anything that puts that at risk.
A growth mindset recognises that looking smart isn’t the goal - its to actually be smart by learning and that any set backs or obstacles are just ways of learning.
As Edison said, albeit perhaps not precisely as quoted:
I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.
I recognise a lot of the traits of a fixed mindset in myself. But I also recognise the positive feeling I get when I act with more of a growth mindset.
Even when it comes to chores - like filling in my tax self-assessment. I always put it off because it feels like an obstacle to doing what I want (ie, not filling in daunting tax forms with vague penalties if I get any of it wrong). But then I just get on with it and it never takes very long because my tax affairs are pretty mundane and for the last couple of years has resulted in a nice little rebate from HMRC. The more you do something, the easier it becomes and it stops being a chore.
I think writing these weeknotes fits in with this model as well.
I had long meant to do it, and have had a couple of aborted attempts in the past. Today I start with a blank page and think what on earth am I going to write? People are going to read this and if its a bunch of mundane nonsense then that’s going to reflect poorly on me. And I don’t want people to think poorly of me.
But putting this in terms of a growth mindset, the only way I can write content people want to read is to write content.
A fixed mindset can feel like a warm blanket keeping you safe from the real world. And to be frank, there are some days I can think of nothing I want more.
But its the growth mindset that, whilst it may not feel natural, is the way to achieve more things - whatever that may be.
I say I skim read it because I don’t think I was the target audience for much of it. As someone who has been working remotely this past year (like everyone else), but also as someone whose work is predominantly in the open source realm, I’ve been working remotely for a long time. Even when I work with colleagues, they are typically in the US so all the same principles apply.
So a lot of the book was familiar. There were some interesting thoughts around how to build culture in a purely remote organisation. You don’t get the same water-cooler moments you might get in a physical space, but there are ways and means to approach that.
The book also listed out a number of online tools that can be used to help facilitate a remote working experience. Although as it was published 8 years ago now, the list is slightly dated.
Would be interested to see what the best of breed tools are today.