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Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege of working with a vast range of people whose kindness, honesty, and work ethic took us through almost impossible challenges. I believe everyone has something to teach me, and this post covers some of what I have learned and admire most about my colleagues.

Joy is contagious

Working on something difficult under pressure can be frustrating, but I get to choose how I feel about the challenge. My teammates face difficult problems with joy and excitement. They lift up their whole team and in doing so become adventurers out on an expedition to new and unexplored places. Everyone wants to follow them!

Helping others lifts everyone’s performance

You may get your work done twice as fast by ignoring members of your team, but you may sacrifice quality and communication. I’ve found that it is better to double the speed of the team by working with them. A team member that happily works harder to help others accelerates the whole team and raises everyone’s skill.

My clients are awesome, they’re why I have such a great job

It’s no secret that I am thankful for our clients. I love my job, and I wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for them. The best developers I know are happiest when delivering value to their client. So if someone struggles with a feature, that’s an opportunity to leverage our skills to make their life easier. When a challenging requirement comes through, that’s another opportunity to clarify and deliver something even better.

Teams are immutable

Adding or removing a single person creates a new team. Responsibilities, relationships, and the structure of the whole team change with personnel changes. Acknowledging when I’m in a new team encourages me to change how I think and make the most of the situation.

Don’t finish the day without getting through your work

The most effective people I know plan their work for the day and work until it is done. There is no catching up in programming, even if an easy task is completed quickly, another “easy” task may blow out your estimate, and you will need every minute of slack time to deliver.

If you’ve just finished some work, get onto the next thing!

If something is important to you, it’s your responsibility to convince others

Not raising an issue in a job where one mistake can send a million emails isn’t an option. In every role you need to be able to convince people to make sound choices. I’ve seen project-saving decisions made time and time again by building trust with relentless honesty, choosing words carefully, and not being afraid to admit the unknown,

Combining disciplines allows us to perform Judo

“Judo” is when a person, through their skill and insight, significantly reduces the time and effort required to deliver a feature. Smashing down the walls between roles like design, development, and testing while being clear about the client’s needs enables each discipline to draw on their knowledge to perform Judo. When a person is covering two disciplines, they tend to be most effective at finding Judo in the seam between.

Appreciating people’s good points is an incredible way to grow as a person. I am often humbled by the people I work with and grateful to work alongside them. I hope that by reading through my experiences you might begin to notice these qualities in others, or even bring some of these to your own teams.

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