I remember reading years ago about approaching life being open rather than closed. I think I read it in one of the e-Myth books by Michael Gerber. It’s something I think about a lot and I strive to be open as much as I can.
Being open is
- “This will work. I just haven’t found the solution yet.”
- “Everyone is doing their best. He’s just having a bad day.”
- “I can figure this out.”
- “Let’s give it a try.”
Being closed is
- “This is impossible.”
- “I’m surrounded by jerks. I don’t even want this job.”
- “I’m not capable.” “I’m too old.” “I’m not smart enough.”
- “I’m not the kind of person who does things like that.”
I think, as software developers, we get to see this difference in this attitude more than most people. We HAVE to be open. We have to know a solution is out there. Otherwise, nothing gets done.
Every developer knows what it’s like to be looking at code that SHOULD work, but isn’t. And that’s frustrating. I mean, I’ve seriously thrown fits like a little kid at my computer when I couldn’t get something to work. So, I take a breath, walk the hallways (or around the building) and come back to it. The one thing I can never do is think the task is impossible.
As software developers, we are used to the “Eureka!” moments. They only come because we knew an answer was out there and we didn’t give up.
There have been so many times that I have been given a project by a frustrated business owner whose developer said something was not possible. Or… by a developer who jumped to a conclusion about why something was failing (usually, it’s something out of their control like disk corruption or a virus– but that’s never it). I usually am able to fix it. I have fresh eyes and an open perspective.
But this perspective applies in other areas of our lives too. I talk to developers all the time who are ready to give up on their app project because “this just isn’t working” or “maybe this used to work, but it doesn’t anymore”. There’s a solution out there. They just need to find it.
It even applies to health and fitness. I have been dealing with shoulder pain from working out. It bothers me. I turn 50 next month. I’m afraid I overdid the training and did some damage. I have had many people tell me “you’re not 18 anymore… you’re body can’t handle what it used to.” This closed me off. It made me limit myself. Then, I saw a sports massage specialist who fixed everything, showed me how to stretch properly, and (best of all) teased me when I told her about my concerns with age. There are many people far older than me who can do much more than I can do, she told me. Those negative comments closed me off. Her knowledgeable explanation opened me up again.
The same is true of the upcoming recession. I’ve been through a few of these in my career. They aren’t fun. But they aren’t impossible either. When you close yourself off with statements like “it’s going to be impossible to get a new job because no one will be hiring”… then you’ll stop trying. It doesn’t help you at all. It’s the same as saying “this bug can’t be fixed” or “I’m too old”. The future belongs to those who are open.
Notice when you are closed. Notice when cynicism sets in.