Don’t Wobble

“If you walk, just walk. If you sit, just sit. Above all, don’t wobble.” – Zen proverb

Buy, hey, we live in the future.

If you write an email, just write the email.

If you design a website, just design the website.

If you implement a feature, just implement the feature.

If you fix a bug, just fix the bug.

If you attend a meeting, just attend the meeting.

If you make a phone call, just make the phone call.

If you sit, just sit.

If you walk, just walk.

The miracle of unitasking: In going slow, you go fast. Don’t wobble.


Noted family psychologist Virginia Satir said that we all need four hugs a day for survival, eight to stay calm, and twelve to grow stronger.

So make sure you hug your fellow developers at least four times a day.


Well, maybe you don’t need to physically hug them. But you can give them frequent positive feedback in other ways.

Say thanks. Compliment their work. Et cetera.

This Is Not My Tribe

A joy of online communities: With countless niches, you can have high standards.

That is: If you find yourself in an online community that doesn’t give you what you’re looking for — whether that’s challenge, education, comfort, belonging, entertainment, attention — you can leave.

When it’s true, admit to yourself: “This is not my tribe.”

It might take a bit of convincing. You might go back out of habit. And maybe you’ll change your mind. Maybe you were having a bad day. But if you keep going back and keep being let down, repeat it: “This is not my tribe.” “This is not my tribe.” “This is not my tribe.”

It’ll stick if it’s true. The truer, the stickier.

Then go find a new tribe.


I am afraid to post things here (and elsewhere) because people might tell me they’re wrong. And I’ll feel not-smart. Or people might tell me I’m not-smart. Maybe, even worse, I’ll agree with them.

This attitude will make me not-smart. Over time, certainly. But probably quickly.

Never Satisfied

What if you were fundamentally unable to be satisfied with your work?

What if you could always find something to improve about whatever you’ve just done?

In a sense, that sounds like kind of a bummer.

But might it be defusable with awareness and patience and perspective?

And couldn’t it also be useful as hell?


A funny case of adaptedness (versus adaptability): My son has his own pronoun.

That is, between my wife and me, when we say “he”, “him”, or “his”, we almost invariably mean our son.

I just got a text out of the blue from her: “Can you log his sleep please?” And of course she didn’t need to specify whom she was talking about. We’re very adapted to the parenting context. So my son gets his own pronoun.

(BTW: The sleep logging request refers to the fact that we use an app to keep track of eats, poops, and sleeps. Very useful for anxious new parents.)


What energizes you more: learning something or teaching something?

Life doesn’t feel right if I’m not learning stuff regularly. New ideas open possibilities and give me a sense of opportunity.

Teaching is important to me, too, though. It requires me to really understand what I’ve learned — it’s sort of an advanced form of learning, really. It gives me much more confidence in a subject. (It also takes confidence.)

Teaching somebody something can be really fulfilling, too. I’m lucky to be able to do it regularly as a parent.

Autopilot Vs Control

You can choose autopilot or you can choose close control.

Autopilot means you give up control for comfort. You can spend your energy elsewhere, but you might lose out on optimization.

Close control means you can optimize, but it requires your attention.

Example: A bus commute gives me less control over my location, but I can spend my energy reading or writing. Driving requires my close attention, but lets me go wherever I want.

You decide what to closely control and what to put on autopilot. And you can’t closely control everything. You only have so much energy and attention.


I like the expression “keep beating this drum” for continuing to repeat an important idea.

I have a few drums I keep beating. I’m getting better at not apologizing for them. Some I keep repeating because I need to keep hearing them. Some I keep repeating because other people need to keep hearing them.

It’s a hop, skip and a jump away from “beating a dead horse”, though. So there’s that.

Delete Your Backlog

What if I deleted your whole backlog? Would you freak out?

Oh, crap! You’ll have to try to put it back together from memory! What if you forget something? It might never get done!

Here’s the thing: If you can’t remember it, it’s probably not that important. If it is important, it’ll probably find its way into your attention again.

Put another way: If it goes away and nobody ever brings it up again, then nobody cared very much about it to begin with. It didn’t need to be in your backlog.

When I see teams with backlogs hundreds of stories long (always digital backlogs — hi, Jira), I want to delete them all and run away giggling. I’d be doing them a favor, refocusing them on what actually matters. But they probably wouldn’t see it that way.