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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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Entries in navel-gazing (46)


Adventures of an Introspective Extrovert, Part 1 in an Ongoing Series

If parts of five weeks on the road don’t teach you something about yourself, I’m not sure what will.

In my case, what it taught me was how my extroverted tendencies show up under stress and in environments of learning and growth, and how to deal with that. Starting with the Agile Conference in Orlando at the beginning of August, I was been from home at lot, mostly in training and learning environments. Thankfully, I’m home for next few weeks, and I’ve been able to spend some time reflecting on the experience.

Now, I generally use “extroverted” and “introverted” in their Jungian sense, i.e. our tendencies either to gain energy from or to expend energy to interact with other people and the outside world. (This is the roughly same way the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator uses them, which how I was initially exposed to the concepts.) One of the ways my extroverted tendencies show up is that I recharge by hanging out with people and talking about stuff with them; another is that I often need to talk through new ideas in order to fully absorb them. (This latter phenomena is sometimes called “external processing,” and while I don’t have to do it for everything, learning is one of the arenas in which I need it the most.) A side effect of these tendencies is that it takes energy for me to sit quietly, particularly when learning new things.

This means that by the third day of a great three-day workshop, I can’t shut up.

Fortunately for those around me (and especially those with introverted tendencies), I’ve figured out that this happens to me, and I spent a good chunk of these trips experimenting with some ways of mitigating it. Getting more sleep helps, eating intelligently helps, not over-indulging in alcohol helps, having one-on-one conversations helps, and – surprisingly to me – exercise helps. One of the things that carried me through this stretch of time was getting out for a run on as many days of these conferences as I could. Somehow, that processing time – even though it was going on inside my head – settled me down. I think my fellow attendees appreciated it.

I realize that my experience is far from universal. I’m curious: How do you deal with your tendencies in a training environment or when you’re traveling?


More of the Same

A year ago I said that my resolutions for 2014 were to be:

  • Present
  • Deliberate
  • Patient
  • Grateful

These, as it turns out, were a good idea. Did I do them 100% of the time? Nope. Did I do them more often than I had in the past? Yep. Were things better when I did them? Absolutely. That seems like success to me.

I think I’ll do them again, only this time, even more so.


The Coming Year

Historically, I’ve not been big on New Year’s resolutions, as I’ve talked about twice before. The research is pretty clear that setting a big, year-long goal to do something whose accomplishment requires you to make substantial modifications to your lifestyle is a low-percentage way to create effective change. I have come to appreciate resolutions, however, as a way to stake out ground in the battle to be a better person. It’s the being that I want to focus on, rather than the doing. So here are my resolutions for 2014:

  • Be present where I am and with the people who are there.
  • Be deliberate in my choices of words and actions.
  • Be patient, both with myself and others.
  • Be grateful for every minute of it.

The more I live these, the better this next year will be.

Happy New Year, everyone.


Listening To Myself

Living authenticity. Admitting vulnerability. Following your fear.

I’ve been circling these ideas for months now. They’ve got a certain power over me, and they’ve been a through-line in the tangled constellation of thoughts I’ve been been having in the waning half of this year. I don’t have a Grand Unified Theory of “Being Your Real Self By Embracing Those Things You’re Afraid Of” but I think its little brother is following me around.

In the last twenty-four hours I’ve read half a dozen blog posts from people whom I admire in which they talk honestly about problems they’re facing, doubts they’re confronting, fears they’re acknowledging. In those words, I see a courage that I admire and that I aspire to. I see people being who they really are, honestly admitting their fears, honestly assessing the difficulties they are facing (and not whining about them). About eighteen months ago my brain stumbled across what I believe to be my personal motto: “With intensity and integrity.” That is how I see these people living. They inspire me to do the same.

This blog is supposed to be a place where I’m reflective in exactly that kind of way, and I’m conscious of how little I’ve been doing that. I keep telling myself that I’m busy Doing Stuff, which is a Good Thing, and so I don’t really need to let people know what I’m thinking. That misses the point, really, which is that writing here is really for myself. Yes, if I’m willing to honestly assess where I’m at and write truthfully about that, other people will find something in those words that they can take for themselves. But the person I’m really shortchanging by not writing here is me.

I want to tell myself that I’m going to stop doing that, and yet I know that I can’t say that with certainty. It’s a thing that I feel destined to struggle with. It will do what it has always done; it will come and go in cycles. I’ll ride a wave of writing a lot for a while, feeling good about what I’m doing. Something will happen, a routine will change, a rhythm will change, and the momentum will go the other way for a while. But there is one thing that I now realize will be constant: When I’m not writing and I feel like I should be, I’m right.

Time to listen.


Waiting To Be Born

My birthday was two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been waiting to be born.

Three weeks ago I accepted a new job. Then were were closed for the week of Fourth of July. This week I’ve been wrapping up loose ends at work; my last day is next Wednesday. A week from Monday I’ll start at the new place. I’ll be there for a week and a half before taking a few days of vacation and going to conference for a week. It’ll be the middle of August before things fall into a new routine.

The net effect is that for roughly two months I’ll be in this weird, transitional limbo. I’ve started letting go of the past, but I don’t quite have a future to grab on to.