Here are some untraditional and powerful ways to bring more (…more impact, more of yourself) to your software development team.
VR: As a user, virtual reality is a transporting and transformative environment. More than ever before the user is somewhere else and being someone new. Relating to the possibilities without ourselves, embracing the present moment, being mindful of the surroundings, grounding our feet into the reality and feeling what that feels like — these all help recognize what is unique about reality. With this recognition we can more, with more impact, create virtual experiences that nurture and massage the user’s senses.
Being The Cause
- Reflect on what is working and what you’d like to work better in life. Be the responsible cause in the matter in all of your life.
- Create a specific possibility
- Enroll others in what you have created
- Take a stand and act from that place
Being A Creator
Tell stories. Build stuff. Make magic. Surprise people. Follow something or someone completely just to see what that feels like. – ML
Being Creative Helps…
- More energy, better moods – A creative project spurs me on like very little else.
- Better work stories (and a better career) – With innovation and ideas at the heart of business today, creativity is one of the most desirable attributes in a modern career. Innovation is a much-coveted capability that many businesses seek (and struggle) to build.
- See possibilities and opportunities – The ability to think in ideas and possibilities transfers to all aspects of your life, and suddenly, new opportunities are unfolding.
- Learn persistence and dedication – Creative endeavor – and the journey to mastery of your craft – takes dedication and persistence. Creativity provides one of the most rewarding canvases for learning these highly transferrable skills.
- Continual learning and growth – Creatives are continually learning, and the drive to create means you are never standing still. Creativity offers rich quality-of-life rewards to those who are courageous enough to follow its calling.
VR: More than before, the user co-creates their experience through use of the technology. As a developer, connecting to that creative energy and productive perspective helps us design gameplay pathways that are more like ‘level designing while playing’.
My Regular Practices
- Weekly drawing/painting
- Telling jokes and stories – as a practice.
- Writing fiction and non-fiction.
Research on naps, meditation, nature walks and the habits of exceptional artists and athletes reveals how mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity. Why? Your brain needs more downtime.
VR: The input/output in VR accentuates the depth, detail, and power of the present moment. With mindfulness, we become more aware of the relationship between stimulus and response. In life, when something happens, we react. Typically, this process happens so quickly and naturally, that we’re not even aware of it. Mindfulness is a tool that helps us to develop a gap between stimulus and response. As developers, practicing mindfulness ourselves stretches and expands our connection to the present moment. We can design for the present moment.
My Regular Practices
- Adequate sleep (for me that is 7.5 hours)
- Daily biking (with headphones)
- Daily (offline) reading
- Weekly running (without headphones)
- Weekly drawing/painting
- Monthly hiking
Imagine being asked to stand on stage, face hundreds of strangers, and make them laugh. Sounds like a nightmare, right?
But taking to the stage is exactly what you should do to be successful in you career. Reach out and grab: confidence, authenticity, self-expression. They are right in front of you.
VR: These technologies have shown potential for learning, assessment, and self-expression. Much of the research in this area has taken a conceptual stance of veridicality; that is, that VR offers promise because it can provide authenticity and levels of realism alongside stimulus or environmental control, or both. This is authenticity of the environment around the user, as well as a fat channel for the user user to express themselves authentically. There are also opportunities for thinking more radically about research directions by focusing on the strengths and promoting more participation from the user. As a developer, tapping into self expression and deconstructing the obstacles to our own authenticity, helps us design with empathy to both introverted and extroverted user profiles.
Practicing Improv Helps…
- Collaborate. Yes! – One of the fundamental improv practices is the “yes, and…” technique. Someone makes a statement such as “I want to buy a car.” The next person may add “Yes, and it will have leather seats.” The next person may add “Yes, and it will be red.” As silly as this sequence may sound in a boardroom setting, the idea is to get people to collaborate and understand that any idea that’s brought to the table can be accepted, added upon and made better. “It’s not about shutting things down but taking [an idea] and building it into something better,” says Connolly.
- Let Go Of Judgement – This is invaluable in brainstorming sessions and can help improve creativity of everyone on the team. While too often the pressure of being right, or feeling that you have to come up with the best and brightest idea bring the creative process to a halt, improvisation teaches not to fear failure or allow inhibitions to triumph.
- Be A Listener – Improv veteran Billy Connolly reminds us that you have to be clear [when you’re speaking], but you also have to be a good listener. An improv technique he often employs is a word toss in which one person says a word and the next person says a word that is inspired by the previous word.“Most of the time, people will listen to everyone else except the person directly before them,” he laughs. “The reason is they’re thinking about what they’re going to say and they’re not focused on what other people are saying.” This exercise teaches the importance not only of listening but understanding the other’s point of view before reacting.
My Regular Practices
- Weekly Improv Class – I’m an improv student at ICC in my city. Even after a full day of work and working out, this class fills me with an energetic second wind.
- Daily Practice – I come from a place where I beat myself up when I don’t meet my own goals. I do this in part, to discourage myself from failing. However, setting goals, accepting the outcome, and improving regardless of the results frees me up to a more workable relationship to myself and my goals.
- Daily ‘Desk Visits’. I make time for socializing. Not work-chat or just chit-chat, I do both of those too. But asking what those around me are excited about and then practice active listening. Being in the moment and actively listening to others without resistance frees me to respond less, with more impact.
- Forbes, Why Improv Training is Great Business Training
- Slate, Getting to Yes, And: How Improv Comedy Skills Became a Must-have for Entrepreneurs
- Fast Company, Improv Works to Fuel Powerful Innovation
- Inc. Magazine, Companies Use Improv to Boost Collaboration and Creativity
- NPR, Top-tier Business Schools Add Improv Training
In The End…
Building DEPTH in technical expertise and specialization is fundamental to my professional growth. That is a common way to approach professional education.
However, the BREADTH gained from cross-training with the soft skills discussed here such as communication, expressivity, peace, and active listening can round out the edges of how you fit into teams. Also cross-training in this way is a powerful differentiator which can set you apart from other candidates for advancement within your current teams and beyond.