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A View From Above

Jonathan Cogley: Registration forms: Breaking down the barriers between your Web visitor and your product

June 5th 2009 | Bryant Smith

A View From Above

“The significant problems we face can never be solved at the level of thinking that created them.”
-Albert Einstein

Last week, I celebrated my fourth anniversary with Thycotic. I wasn’t aware of it until I received an encouraging IM from Jonathan Cogley (my boss) congratulating me on four years with the company. I just buried myself back into my work…

There is nothing wrong with getting deep involved in the details of work, especially if you are having fun doing it, which I generally am. Sometimes it’s a blast. Other times it’s a chore. It’s all a matter of perspective—a precious commodity that is slippery (read David Allen’s ‘Making It All Work’) but essential. Perspective is what turns my work into a blast or a chore. It can either motivate or demotivate you.

Is everything perfect at Thycotic?

No, we’ve got problems; but they’re good problems. Besides, perfect is boring and not very challenging. That’s another perspective that is slippery for me: looking at problems as something fun to solve. The question is, do you have the tools that give you some control and perspective? A coworker’s presentation on Kent Beck’s XP book compared our practices with the book. The presentation was frustrating yet exciting at the same time. Frustrating because I feel a need to apply our Agile practices more purely. Frustrating because I want to become a craftsman at what I do, but sometimes reality gets in the way (our customers, our practices, my own limitations and mistakes, etc.) On the other hand, I feel excited because we have a great team and I have many of the Agile practices down pat.

So what’s the takeaway here?

It’s how do I manage a perspective that’ so difficult to maintain? Today this perspective of excitement, gratitude, and passion for my job is bolstered and supported by the fact that I needed to write this blog in the first place. If I wasn’t writing this right now, I would have probably missed the opportunity to look at my circumstances from a higher ground. Don’t get me wrong, I am frequently grateful for my job and my circumstances. Maybe it’s just the way I am, maybe it’s my faith in God and the Bible. Whatever it is, it is easily attainable by all if we have the right tools.

What are those tools? A short list might include:

  • ‘Making it All Work’, by David Allen, author of ‘Getting Things Done’
  • Ask yourself challenging questions.
  • Read inspiring stories or watch uplifting movies.
  • Get involved in the community.
  • Be a mentor. Teach.
  • Review old dreams.

The problem can rarely be solved at the level that the problem is found. You may have to move your focus to a higher level for clarity, or down to the level of action steps. Most of us have a tendency to get into a groove where we do one more than the other. For me, as of late, I have been having health issues. My tendency was to keep my head down and weather the storm. It’s a nice view from up here, I think I’ll stay a while…

Bryant Smith is a Senior .NET developer at Thycotic Software, an agile software consulting and product development company based in Washington DC. Secret Server is our flagship enterprise password management product.