Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Paul Tevis

Entries in navel-gazing (46)


The Best Kind of Busy

Things, as they say, have been good. I’ve been spending the last few months getting used to a) sleeping more, b) running regularly, and c) eating better. It’s amazing what this has done for my ability to focus and to get things done. This week was an intense period at work, not because of the amount that we need to accomplish, but because the kind of things I needed to do (including helping the team come to agreements about working practices that incorporated a lot of diverse and often unspoken viewpoints) were emotionally trying. Without the habits I’ve been developing, I wouldn’t have made it through.

So the reason you haven’t been hearing from me is that I’ve been soaking a lot of things up, doing a lot of inner work, and building a solid foundation for creativity. And now it feels like I’m starting to come out of my cocoon.


Attention Unsecured Time Creditors

Looking back at the first six months of 2012 makes me feel like I need to file for temporal bankruptcy. At the beginning of the year, I set some goals for things I wanted to get done. Along the way, I added a few more. And a few more. And a few more. I think we all know what the outcome of that process usually looks like.

Fortunately, my office is closed this week, which means that I suddenly find myself with some time to take stock of my situation, make some decisions about priorities, and figure out what I want to try for the rest of the year that might be a bit more realistic.


It's Not Always Easy... And That's Ok

Today contained at least two reminders that just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I’ve failed.

I’m in between running training programs right now. I’ve got about five weeks to bridge before the training cycle for the next race begins. I can’t just take that whole time off, because I need to be running fifteen to twenty miles a week when I start that next set of workouts. The problem is that I always have a hard time going out for a long run when it’s not part of a training program for a particular race. When I’m in a program, I know that there could be consequences for not getting out there. When I’m not, I’m a lot more casual about it. That’s one thing that made going for a run today harder.

The other thing that made it harder was that I felt like crap. I was really low-energy, because of a number of things — not sleeping well last night, going for a fast run last time out, doing my long run on one day of rest instead of two, and not going for a long run last weekend (among others). As a result, it was an eight-mile slog. Fortunately, I’ve developed enough grit that I can keep running through that, partly by fooling myself and saying I won’t walk yet but I will walk later, partly by telling myself that I shouldn’t be afraid of hard work. That how I got through this morning’s run.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered it was actually faster than the last long training run I’d done before the race. The one I felt great on. Yeah.

As I said when I got back, I’m not developing the ability to feel great on all my runs. I’m developing the ability to go faster while not feeling any worse. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I’ve failed.

(The other reminder of that was writing this post, which I took three running leaps at before I was finally able to figure out what I was trying to say. And like that run, it may not have been great, but it’s what I needed to do.)


A New Kind of Nervous

The last nine days have been fantastic for me. I’d like to think that’s because of changes I’ve been making in my approach to my projects and to-do lists. As a result, I’ve made solid progress every day on everything I’ve committed to. I feel great, because I’ve been eating smart and exercising well. I’m pointed in the right direction, because I’ve had the time to consider what I’m working on and why, rather than just going heads down on my to do list. And I’m feeling really balanced, in no small part because I’ve been able to spend a lot of quality time with Gwen.

All of this is making me incredibly nervous. I’ve suddenly started worrying my virtue is unsustainable. I’m at that point on the anxiety curve where every day I keep pulling this off feels like I’ve gotten a reprieve from the usual order of things. I’m not yet used to this enough to think of it as the new normal. If I can keep this up for another week, I’ll feel better. Until then, I keep thinking, “Maybe the reason this is working is just a fluke. Maybe it’s because of the calendar. Maybe it has nothing to do with me.”

The weird part for me is that I’ve never had this experience before. I’ve never been one to question when things go right. I’m curious about where this reaction is coming from, but the thing I need to do is keep telling myself is that even if things go pear-shaped for a day or two, I can recover. I won’t have to start over from the beginning. I’ve gotten myself this far, and I can get myself back to this point again if I need to.


Do Not Want

On the day after Thanksgiving, Becky has this Fourth Friday Challenge for me:

“Anti-Gratitude List, or ‘I cursed the day these things were born/created/developed.’ At least five, please.”

This one is surprisingly hard for me. I don’t follow the code of the hater. In high school, I noticed how much time and energy some people wasted on hating other people or things that they couldn’t change. Doing that wasn’t a personality trait that I had, and I decided that I would stomp it out whenever I noticed it rearing its ugly head. So I’m going to have to go into a brainstorming rant to come up with this list. Let’s start the clock.

  • Willful ignorance / limited rationality / a lack of desire to discover someone else’s perspective.
  • Not running the damn tests.
  • Not reverting out changes that break the build.
  • Committing new code to the repository when the build is already broken.
  • People who don’t understand how a four-way stop works.
  • Things that sound all-natural but whose ingredient lists make it clear they’re not.
  • The belief that businesses exist solely to maximize profits.
  • That bananas go from being tasty to being not-so-tasty but still edible in such a short period of time.
  • The myth of effective multitasking.

That’s what came out in the first five minutes. There was more there than I thought, and there’s probably still more yet if I want to keep digging. I realize now that because this sort of thing is not normal for me is exactly why Becky asked me about it. Well played, Becky. Well played.