TIL: Perspective

Oct 26, 2013

Recently during a bit of a tight and stressful stretch of work, inevitably it meant touching on some of those “icky” parts of development. You know, those languages you don’t really like (looking at you php), working around inflexible platform limitations, or that general tomfoolery you pull when the deadline is too short to give a refactoring pass and you hope it won’t blow up on you in the future.

I got to learn ____

At the end of the day I was doing a recap of sorts with a coworker and as we were working through things I jokingly said, “I got to learn some regex warts in php”. That trend continued and something funny happened – it really clicked to talk about these “issues” as learning “opportunities”. There was something definitively advantageous to framing our issues this way, as “fun” (in the woodworking sense) as they may be.

It reminds me of the “war stories” that some of the more seasoned devs and sys-admin guys have. There’s always a laugh, some jokes on someone else’s expense, and a sense of “we got through it”. It’s easy and natural for us to frame our past struggles in this way, but not as easy for our close problems. Even though our problems aren’t weeks in the past, doesn’t mean we can’t take a “we got through it”, “we learned from it” perspective – and doing so can have a net positive effect.

So, to sum up. Instead of saying “ugh, I had to deal with _____” try “today I got to learn _____”. That little shift of perspective could brighten your day, and hey, you might even get to learn something.