Developer Tea

Thinking, Acting & Marshmallows

Episode Summary

In today's episode, we discuss how experimenting can be more beneficial than thinking.

Episode Notes

In today's episode, we discuss how experimenting can be more beneficial than thinking.

###Today's Episode is Brought To You By: WooCommerce
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They're giving Developer Tea listeners 20% off purchases when you use promo code DEVELOPERTEA at (offer lasts until end March 2018)

Jon's Cup Of Tea

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Episode Transcription

What was the last time that you felt paralyzed by your thoughts? You couldn't take action and you ultimately ended up over-analysing and getting stuck even further than you were before. That's what we're talking about on today's episode of Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. This show is dedicated to Driven Developers who are trying to uncover their career purpose. I hope to help you do that. I hope to help you connect to that purpose so that you can turn around and do better work as a developer. If you actually are connected to your career purpose, you're going to perform better at your job. This isn't just an opinion. This is something that has been researched. If you feel a sense of purpose in your job, you're going to do better at that job. You'll be more motivated. You'll end up coming home feeling more satisfied. Another word for that is happy. It's very hard to understand how to create happiness in your life. One of the things that research has shown is that people who feel purpose in the work they do, they end up reporting higher levels of happiness. It's not about increasing your salary. Of course, typically, if you're doing a better job at your job, then typically your salary will follow. You increase value for the company and hopefully the company will compensate you. This is about improving the quality of your life and improving the quality of your work so that you can, in turn, improve the quality of life for other people. That's the whole point of the show. But sometimes we get stuck. Sometimes we get stuck. We get stuck in our minds. We turn an idea over and over. You've heard the phrase analysis paralysis. Unfortunately, this can kill your career. It'll at least stop it for the day. You don't get anything done because you've been thinking. This is a really hard thing to avoid, especially for people who have similar personalities to mine. Because I believe, kind of intuitively, I believe, that analysis is a prerequisite to effective action. Very often, we as developers, we can kind of adopt this mindset. It's very easy to believe that we need to think things all the way through before we start actually acting on them, actually building something. I want to challenge that idea right after we talk about today's sponsor, WooCommerce. If you've bought for more than a couple of online stores, then it's very probable that you have used WooCommerce, and you may not have even known it. WooCommerce is built on top of WordPress, but you can customize WooCommerce to fit your needs however you would like. As a developer, you may have never set up an online store before. I know that the word eCommerce can be really daunting, but WooCommerce has intentionally built this product to help you get started and you own your data forever. WooCommerce has made the onboarding process easy for newcomers, and by the way, it's tax season. Tax season is coming up. If you were to go and create your own eCommerce store, then taxes would be a nightmare for you. Fortunately, WooCommerce has partnered with the leaders in the field of taxes to build extensions that will handle the tax calculations and the returns for you. This is a huge burden off your back because taxes can be such a nightmare. This really showcases one of the key points about WooCommerce, their extensions library. They have over 140 extensions. You can probably integrate with any service you're already using. Go and check it out, slash Developer Tea. If you get started with the code Developer Tea, you'll get 20% off. 20% off. slash Developer Tea. That code is good until March 2018. Thank you again to WooCommerce for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. We're talking about this idea of becoming paralyzed by analysis. We're thinking through problems. This is not a bad idea. Thinking is not a bad idea. I want you to feel the license to think and to think thoroughly and completely. But the problem that we often face as developers is that we believe that thought and action are sequential. In other words, that thought has to be done in a vacuum and then we pass that thought into our actions. Unfortunately, this leaves out a major factor of the way our brains work. Our brains actually learn better and think better with experience. A simple example of this is if you've ever read a programming book, let's say you're learning a new language, and you read all the way through the book, and then you start trying to use the language. You're very likely to fail miserably if you try to do things this way because you're going to end up having to go back and reread pretty much all of the book to get any particularly useful information out of it. So how can we do better? This problem is illustrated quite well through an experiment that was created by Tom Wu-Jak. Tom is a regular speaker at TED. And he shared this talk. I'd encourage you to go and watch it. But he shared a talk about the marshmallow problem. Essentially, participants are assembled into teams and they provide them with a certain number of marshmallows and a stack of spaghetti and the challenges to build the tallest marshmallow structure. I actually participated in this particular experiment when I was in college. And they've performed this experiment with teams all over the world of all ages. And the results are pretty surprising. The top two teams happen to be architects and engineers and well, kindergartners. These are children who have just gotten out of kindergarten and they're building taller structures than, for example, CEOs. So what are they doing differently? What exactly is happening? Well, the problem that we discussed in the beginning, the analysis paralysis, the worst performing group of people is actually individuals who recently graduated from business school. And these teams tend to follow the same pattern. They plan the best structure. They'll draw it out. They'll talk about the structure and they'll only build one version of that structure. And they try to make that one version perfect. And what typically ends up happening is towards the end of the experiment, perhaps in the last minute or so, the structures, at the very last piece that they can hold, they end up toppling over. Now, the kids, on the other hand, the kindergartners who are building structures taller than the CEOs are building, their behavior is to build immediately, to start building almost without thinking. Except they are thinking and the way that they're thinking is through experimentation. They're thinking through experience. They're trying something to see if it works. And when it doesn't, they have plenty of space and time to respond to that action. They're learning and thinking through their actions rather than sequentially before their actions. So if you feel paralyzed by your thinking, if you feel like you can't take action because you haven't quite figured out the right plan, I encourage you to start taking action almost immediately. The way that I like to think about it is having two different paces that we operate in, to think very slowly but to act very quickly. Act in a way that the things that you're building are disposable. The code that you're writing can be thrown away. Writing code doesn't really take a lot of time in terms of keystrokes, right? What takes a lot of time is analyzing whether or not that code is correct. What takes a lot of time is making that code better through thinking. So thinking slowly is a good idea, but you're going to be able to think better if you have that experience, if you have that action right in front of you, if you're experiencing what is and what isn't working. This is going to provide you with much more detail, much higher definition information. It's going to give you a picture of the reality of what you're doing rather than forcing you to imagine a reality that will exist or to actually do take action. I encourage you to take action sooner and to take action quickly. Don't allow your thinking to be tied to those actions. Write the bag code first because you have a delete key for a reason. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. I encourage you to go and watch this TED Talk by Tom Wu-Jek. The talk is actually called Build a Tower Build a Team. And it's a pretty short talk you can Google it and find it pretty easily. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you again to today's sponsor, WuCommerce. You can get started with WuCommerce very quickly and you'll have a store up and running in almost no time thanks to their incredible onboarding experience. Go and check it out, slash Developer Tea. Use the code Developer Teaat checkout to get 20% off that code is good until the end of March 2018. I have one more thing to mention. I've been drinking this tea, mad monk tea. If you've never had loose leaf tea, then I encourage you to go and check it out. This is a totally different experience and if all you've ever had is coffee and tea in a tea bag, then you're missing out on what tea is really truly meant to taste like. Go and check it out If you use the code Developer Teaat checkout, you'll get 15% off your order. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. I encourage you if you enjoy topics like what we talked about today to go and subscribe and whatever podcasting up you're listening to right now. We released three episodes a week so it's easy to get behind. You're going to end up missing out on topics that you really are interested in and it's easy to unsubscribe in the future if you ever decide that you want to stop listening to this show. It's very easy to do, but even if this show makes you 1% better in your career, is it not worth the 10 or 12 minutes that it takes to listen to an episode? I think it is. That's why we continue making this podcast happen. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.