Troubleshooting Professional Magazine
[ Troubleshooters.Com | Back Issues ]
|1.Get the Attitude
2.Get a complete and accurate symptom description
3.Make damage control plan
4.Reproduce the symptom
5.Do the appropriate general maintenance
6.Narrow it down to the root cause
7.Repair or replace the defective component
9.Take pride in your solution
10.Prevent future occurrence of this problem
I figured it would be a slam dunk. Step 9 is maybe 15 minutes in my Troubleshooting course, and it's not an overwhelming favorite with the attendees (they like bottleneck analysis). But the more I wrote about step 9, the more I realized it's applicable to much more than Troubleshooting. That's when things got interesting...
So what is Take Pride? The book Troubleshooting: Tools, Tips
and Techniques defines it like this:
|So you've finally nailed the tough problem you've been tracking. OK, now's the time for emotion. Take pride in what you just did. GLOAT over how you beat the problem that was trying to beat you. SAVOR the victory. GO OVER in your mind every step of the way to victory. REVIEW the course of the troubleshoot, where you were brilliant, where you could have done better. BRAG to your co-workers.|
Do it now. Get personal with the vanquished problem. Insult it. "Is that all you've got?". Proclaim your championship. If appropriate, maybe do a little victory dance. Brag to your co-workers. Flush with victory, you might even want to give them a little help with their problems.
There's no better time to feel great about yourself than after you did great. Soon enough the difficulty of your harsh and harried work environment will tax your mood. Celebrate immediately after the victory. You'll remember the good mood, and it will carry you through the tough work yet to come. On those terribly taxing days, it's vitally important to remember the good points. The alternative can be burnout.
The Take Pride step is also educational. It allows you to lock in what you learned in the Troubleshoot. This refines your techniques, advancing your prowess.
Does this all sound a little nuts? I'll tell you what's nuts. Once a vacant eyed, twitching homeless guy was talking to himself when he saw my Pascal Programming book. He approached me saying, "Pascal -- isn't that a programming language? I used to do Fortran, but" (twitch, headshake) "I don't like it any more". Then he walked away, animatedly discussing an unfathomable topic with an invisible companion.
If you think doing a victory dance at work is crazy, consider the alternative.
It's not surprising. Burnout requires two distinct circumstances:
Try to avoid, at all costs, the combination of overwork and disappointment. Step 9 helps immensely by cutting the workload and by reducing disappointment.
Beyond the actual work time reduction, the workload is further cut because taking pride increases your efficiency. The happy technologist will invariably work more rationally and more creatively, resulting in quicker resolutions, hence decreased workload. The time consumed by taking pride pays for itself many fold.
We all have a balance sheet containing percieved victories and percieved defeats. A net surplus of percieved victories makes of us serene. But when percieved defeats substantially outnumber percieved victories, it's a prescription for burnout. Victories uncelebrated are victories forgotten. Celebrate every victory. Take pride.
Ed Yourdon wrote an article called "Surviving A Death March
Project" in the July 1997 issue of Software Development Magazine. In his
article, Ed makes the following ominous statement: "In addition to the
project collapse, at least one of my team members suffered a nervous collapse,
and several others burned out to the point where they were never really
Don't let this happen to you. Try your best to get out of any death march projects. If you must be on one for a while, take pride early and often. You can take a walk around the building before anyone notices you're missing, and take pride during the walk. Go get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, whatever. Just rejoice every victory. It makes you more mentally robust, thereby increasing the likelihood that someone else will hire you away from the slave drivers before it's too late.
I once took second place in a Pacific Stereo contest. Runner up. It was a brutal contest, with the top three finishers beating the old repair production record. During the month I had taken pride after every fix. I had jabbered about every repair. I was a dancing fool. My coworkers thought me crazy. Maybe I was. But I was sane enough to come right back to work the next month.
Take Pride Parties work well in any environment where several friendly co-workers with similar jobs and skillsets work in close proximity. Programmers, sysadmins, hardware people, automotive technicians, etc. If possible, whoop it up at work.
I know sometimes this isn't easy. Sometimes the time after work is spent plotting escape from cruel taskmasters, or worrying about tomorrow's deadlines, or problems with other employees, or the conflicts existing between your home and work responsibilities. Those things are natural. But try to log some time chuckling about your victories of the day.
But I bet his wife and kids hear about it when he does great work. I know my wife and kids sure do.
You may find it worthwhile to take five minutes a night recording your victories in a journal. A spiral notebook serves as a low tech solution, but it's hard to search. Much better is a computer document (kept at home, not at work). Perhaps the most effective is one of those straight-to-digital dictating machines, so you can record your thoughts anywhere and any time.
The benefits of keeping a journal go *far* beyond taking pride. A journal can be a powerful life management and decision support tool. However, those uses are beyond the scope of this magazine. Just remember that a journal can be a vital component of taking pride, and if you use it, you'll gain incredible side benefits.
We're all different, but in my opinion these spiritual experiences are best as solitary experiences, preferably while walking. Walk around the block several times, playing back the day like a movie. Enjoy the victory. Explain to yourself how well you did. Allow yourself to smile. Don't worry if other people on the street think you're strange for smiling.
Speaking of other people, try to find a solitary place to walk. I walk in the woods a lot. In the woods, seen only by the lizards and birds, I can dance, jump for joy, let out a yell, and even discuss my victory out loud with myself.
This solitary stage should last long enough to let the full import of your accomplishments sink in. You'll know you've reached that point when the excitement and euphoria start to fade, leaving just a general feeling of well being. Now it's time to celebrate with friends and family.
Pick people who can understand and share your excitement. Spouses and family are usually an excellent choice, but some friends can also fit the bill. Be careful to choose someone wise enough to let you have your moment of glory, without jealousy or bragging interruptions.
Everyone has something like the woods, if they just look. In Reseda, California I had Reseda Blvd, a funky, overly colorful busy street with more soul than all of Motown. In Venice, California I walked and skateboarded the sidewalks around West Los Angeles Community College, where I first conceived of the process that would eventually become Rapid Learning. As a little boy in Winnetka, Illinois, I had the Hubbard Woods Grammar School schoolyard. For each person, in each location, there's a perfect place.
I discovered the power of immediately taking pride in accomplishments while investigating Troubleshooting. But Troubleshooting is just the tip of the iceberg. We humans have a tendency to focus on our failures and forget our successes. That's why it's vital to indelibly mark each victory in our mind. By immediately celebrating all victories, we permanently add those victories to our mental balance sheets.
How many stories do you hear of highly successful people getting to the top of the mountain, only to self-destruct soon after. They've accomplished the goal, there's nowhere else to go, and they feel let down. Consider the frequent heavy abuse of drugs and alcohol among the most successful, especially those achieving success at a young age. How often do we forget our daily successes, and focus on a failure. Or focus on the fact that we've reached the top and have no place to go. Without memories of our successes, we leave ourselves open to burnout, and maybe even substance abuse.
It's vital to celebrate victories as they happen. Don't put it off -- the feeling will float off in the winds of everyday life. Celebrate immediately in order to stamp the image of your victory firmly in your mind. Make taking pride a priority. Celebrate with your family, with your friends, with your co-workers, and with yourself. Celebrate every victory. Find a celebration place. Go there. Make sure your balance sheet has a surplus of remembered victories.
Writing this issue of Troubleshooting Professional Magazine has made me aware, for the first time, of the universality of taking pride. This month's magazine was supposed to be a quick and dirty write. I selected a topic I thought to be simple and straightforward. After all, it's just step 9 of the Universal Troubleshooting Process. It gets only a quick mention in my Troubleshooting classes, because the attendees are quickly bored with it. Yep, this issue seemed like a slam-dunk.
Wow, was I wrong. Taking pride is nothing less than a major piece of the universal body of truth whose laws govern Troubleshooting, quality, psychology and human performance, morality, business, and almost every other human endeavor. I'm now incorporating immediate victory celebration in my personal and professional life. For me, this could be the most important issue of Troubleshooting Professional Magazine written so far. I've learned a fundamental piece of the universal body of truth.
I need time to assimilate this new knowledge. To let it become part of my instinctive thought processes. To understand all its ramifications and applications. To decide how to incorporate it into my tactics and strategy. I'm going to the woods now to continue this train of thought. I'll think as I walk its shady green covered paths. And maybe, witnessed only by birds and lizards, I'll do a little victory dance.
The groups to which I've been truly loyal can be counted on three fingers. The first was the Venice Speed Demons outdoor speedskating team. The second was Orlando based Everyone's Linux User Group (ELUG), which I joined within 2 months of arriving in Orlando. When ELUG split in two, I chose to go with Linux Enthusiasts and Professionals of Central Florida (LEAP-CF) -- the third finger. In all three cases, I felt I was "in with the in crowd". It's a good feeling.
Linux User Groups (LUGs) are universally ideal places to take pride. Both ELUG and LEAP-CF encourage attendees to bring their boxes and show off their technology. Pride is displayed, knowledge transferred. My UMENU GPL project first saw the light of day at an ELUG meeting. I showed off my kernel compiling methodology at a LEAP-CF meeting. The feeling of having 20 or so of your buddies see your kewl new technology is incomparable.
But taking pride is about *immediate* celebration. You can't wait until the next meeting. That's where your LUG's mailing list comes in. After perfecting a discovery, email in the description and reproduction sequence. Some responses to your post will say "wow, that's cool", others will say "that's cool, and here's an improvement". Soon there's a 30 post thread devoted to your accomplishment, with you as the acknowledged guru. Did someone say proud!
A LUG is an ideal place to take pride. If you're not in one, join one. When you get there, if they don't encourage bringing in your box, work to change that. Without the ability to show off, a LUG is little more than a boring professional association. You know, like a Windows user group. When you join your LUG, post your discoveries on the mailing list and watch your stock go up. Congratulate your fellow LUGsters on their discoveries, and help them advance their technology.
Your LUG provides pride on more than just your accomplishments. There's
pride in being in with the in crowd. When I wear my LEAP-CF shirt around
town, I know I'm cool. Try it. Wear your LUG's tee shirt. See if it doesn't
add a little bounce to your step.
And as you bop down the street, you might find yourself humming your own rendition of a song from a summer when "Windows" meant the ventilation system in the fifty dollar station wagon that hauled everyone and their boards to the beach:
My buddies and me are getting real well known
Yeah, the Win weenies know us and they leave us alone
I get around...
By submitting content, you give Troubleshooters.Com the non-exclusive, perpetual right to publish it on Troubleshooters.Com or any A3B3 website. Other than that, you retain the copyright and sole right to sell or give it away elsewhere. Troubleshooters.Com will acknowledge you as the author and, if you request, will display your copyright notice and/or a "reprinted by permission of author" notice. Obviously, you must be the copyright holder and must be legally able to grant us this perpetual right. We do not currently pay for articles.
Troubleshooters.Com reserves the right to edit any submission for clarity or brevity. Any published article will include a two sentence description of the author, a hypertext link to his or her email, and a phone number if desired. Upon request, we will include a hypertext link, at the end of the magazine issue, to the author's website, providing that website meets the Troubleshooters.Com criteria for links and that the author's website first links to Troubleshooters.Com. Authors: please understand we can't place hyperlinks inside articles. If we did, only the first article would be read, and we can't place every article first.
Submissions should be emailed to Steve Litt's email address, with subject line Article Submission. The first paragraph of your message should read as follows (unless other arrangements are previously made in writing):