Ease at Work – A Talk by Kent Beck

The other day I was watching Kent Beck’s talk about Ease at Work.
It touched me deeply and I could really relate to what he described.
http://www.infoq.com/presentations/self-image

In order for me to remember, I decided to summarize the key points of the presentation.

The concept of Ease
There are many meanings to the word Ease, but in this case it’s not something like:
“I want to be rich and sit all day on the beach”.
Usually, us programmers would like to pick up hard and challenging work.

Here are the three points that relate to Ease in our case.

  1. State of comfort
  2. Freedom from worry, pain, or agitation
  3. Readiness in performance, facility

The pendulum inside us
People tend to have emotions, feelings and state of mind that change like a pendulum.
We sometimes feel at the top of the world. “I am the best programmer in the world and can solve anything”. This is one side.
Other times we feel deeply at the bottom: “I am soooo bad on what I do. I should stop programming and work on something completely different”.

There’s a huge range between the two sides of the pendulum.

So, being at ease would mean bring the amplitude of the swing down.
Decrease the range.

Once the pendulum swings at lower range, I will feel better on what I’m doing.

List of things that help being at ease
In his talk, Kent explains each point. I will just list the points.

  1. My work matters
  2. My code works
  3. I’m proud of my work
  4. Making public commitments
  5. Accountability (I am accountable)
  6. I interpret feedback
  7. I am a beginner – I don’t know everything
  8. Meditation
  9. I serve. No expectations of reward

These points are reminder for me. Whenever I don’t feel at ease, I should check what’s wrong. These points are a good starting point.

My personal addition
I thought of another two points:

  1. Clear vision of the future
  2. A good developer (well, any employee) wants to know that he/she has a career path.
    I will be more at ease if “I know where I’m going from here”

  3. Professional and flourishing environment
  4. A good developer will feel much more comfortable (at ease) in an environment of people he/she can learn from.
    The team should be diverse enough so everyone can learn from everyone else and mentor others.
    A good developer will feel at ease if he/she is surrounded with members who have the same passion as him (for technology, clean-code or whatever)

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