Friday, January 31, 2014

Flow

I'm still working on the same card I started last Thursday. Monday, another of the new Devs paired with me, and together we resolved the first half of the problem. I had the solution, but didn't have ALL the information I needed for that solution to work. Now we're working on the 2nd half. We worked in different directions, and it looks like neither of our solution paths will work. Now we're trying to create a new stored procedure. I obviously do not have the right mind-set for this position yet, because this is the 3rd time in the past month I've encountered the need to create a new stored procedure to resolve my issue, and it's the 3rd time that thought never even occurred to me.  

It's been 6 months since I jumped the wall into PD. I've had 4+ months of training, 2 solid months of actual work, and I still struggle with the learning curve. The amount I need to learn compared to the pace at which I'm learning still affects my self esteem. I know I'm smart enough to do the job, but every day I question if I've bitten off more than I can chew. I know I can learn what I need to know, eventually. My problem is how often I don't have what I need to know NOW in order to accomplish my daily tasks. I find this incredibly frustrating, and I'm feeling decidedly beaten down by the experience.
 Whenever we finish a card, we're supposed to ask if anyone needs a pair. I've found myself stuck enough to accept that help a few times lately. There is no shame in accepting the help but I'd almost prefer to work alone, even on the more challenging cards. I would struggle and take forever, when we don't have an infinite amount of time. I would ask a lot of questions and need help in certain sections, which would take time away from the more experienced Devs. In the end though, I would do the work and learn more in the process. At this point on my current card, I'm again in the position of watching the other Dev do my work. I have little to contribute, and am basically just staying out of the way until it's done. This is not a good place for me to be.
Until this job, I was accustomed to arriving at work and immediately diving into the flow of the day. "Flow" being a sense of focus and involvement, where I'm challenged but capable and can get lost in what I'm doing. It's a state I enjoy, that makes time pass more quickly and allows me to feel accomplished on a regular basis. Flow has a growth element, where tasks are equal to or somewhat greater than skill level. There is no flow in mundane or menial tasks. There is also no flow when the tasks are too far above current skill level.
HERE is NOT where I am right now. Some cards, I am challenged and can eventually find the solution. Some cards, like several I've picked up lately, I am challenged beyond my current knowledge and experience base. Not only is there no flow, I constantly feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. I just don't know enough yet, and it's frustrating enough to make me question this path on a regular basis. I have to keep reminding myself to be patient, that I am learning and growing, albiet more slowly than I could wish. This is not an easy thing for ADD/OCD/Instant Gratification Girl.
One way I've found to remind myself I am actually growing is to track the cards I've done. In going through the physical cards, I realized I've completed about twice as many as I originally thought. Almost half of those have passed QA without failing at all (a personal goal I set for myself months ago). It's also possible to see the improvement curve in the cards that have failed, in the reasons they failed and the number of times they failed. 

Another is to track things on the blog. This is part of why I started blogging again: to track my accomplishments. It's easy to focus on the negatives and forget the successes. Writing about them not only impresses them in my memory, it also leaves a record I can refer to later, when I feel I'm making no progress. Being able to refer to successes will also help during glory memo time in the year end review process.

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