What can we learn from high performers in other disciplines?

You have a burning passion inside you.

Maybe you feel it in this moment, or maybe it’s a feeling you lost touch with lately due to circumstance.

The beauty of this passion — with it, you are capable of great things.

“The emotions you are feeling at this very moment are a gift, a guideline, a support system, a call to action. If you suppress your emotions and try to drive them out of your life… you’re squandering one of life’s most precious resources” — Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within

Keeping the flame alive

One of the ways to keep the flame of your passion alive is to envision a climactic moment you strive towards.

For a musician, it could be imagining an on-stage performance in front of a thousand screaming fans or simply captivating a room. For an athlete, maybe it’s pretending to shoot a game-winning shot for the state title, while in an empty gym.

For a developer, the big moment is…

…what? Or are our lives destined to an infinite malaise of pull request templates and bug fixes?

Releasing a beloved new feature. Speaking at a conference. These are generic answers — but think back in your own career. What were the most exhilarating moments thus far?

It can be hard to come up with a comparable moment in the typical life of a developer to the musician or athlete. But perhaps there is something to emulate.

“The same barrier that kept me out of pain also kept me out of pleasure. It barred me from solutions and sealed me in a tomb of emotional death…” — Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within

No, you won’t ever be coding in front of a thousand screaming fans.

And it’s probably for the best to not act like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer during the Windows 95 release event:https://psingman.com/media/55a069c8b2122efc4bc0f4a3b034984d

But I also do not believe that choosing software development as a career means sealing yourself in a tomb of emotional death.

Finding Emotional Clarity

Instead, don’t worry about focusing on a specific event occurring in the future, but rather identify the feeling that goes with it.

For example, take speaking at a conference to a roomful of attentive faces. How would you feel at that moment? A combination of animated, nervous, playful, connected, proud, and finally—sweet relief.

What moments can you more practically aim toward that can summon the same sort of feelings. Now start doing whatever work is required to get you there. 

Remind yourself daily of the emotions you aim to generate, and review your schedule each day to figure out what meetings or tasks they could be cultivated in.

“If we decide to think, feel, and act as the kind of person we want to be, we will become that person.” — Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within

Practical Solutions

While I could continue waxing poetically on the topic for forever. There’s no one truth I’m driving towards, but there are many paths one can start to go down to bring more emotional joy to daily work.

You may be fortunate to have an integral role on an exciting project that’s meaningful to you. Other times though, there’s no getting around an arduous busywork task or project that you have no choice but endure.

Here are some tips when in the latter situaion.

1. Pair Programming

Riffing with a teammate while coding is a great way to avoid diving into the depths of the unforgiving world of bits and logic solo. Find someone you work well with and schedule a weekly session, or message them when you’re getting stuck to jam out.

2. Staying Active in the Community

I wake up every morning to a series of notifications from Medium of people clapping my posts or becoming new followers. Other people have thousands of Twitter followers who will retweet or heart even the most trivial of 280 character thoughts.

Call it vain, but these small dopamine hits can be the little extra boost to get you out of bed and going early. Now, working on a task at work isn’t just to complete it, but also to give ideas for future content and conversations with others.

And who knows what the future will hold.

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