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The Wolf You Feed

·3 mins

I’ve been solving complicated tech problems long enough that I’ve shifted my focus from the specific details of the problem to the governing dynamics. As that transition has progressed, I’ve come to realize that where I really thrive is helping people grow, and become better versions of themselves.

That’s FUN and HARD and the rewards feed my soul in ways that solving daily tech problems rarely do. Resultantly, I’ve transitioned my career trajectory to engineering leadership and mentorship.

Move fast!!!
Demonstrate immediate value Iterate!

Is a good guideline
…When done with strong safety rails to prevent unintentional harm.

However, I have often seen this philosophy applied improperly by orgs looking for the quick win.
The most likely outcome?

  • Good humans suffering needlessly
  • Disappointment for the org.

Every decision has consequences.

In my opinion, the goal of good leadership is to make the best decision possible for the circumstance being faced.

Even when all the options stink
I’m confident that some will stink more, or less, than others …
Which one(s) to pick USUALLY depends almost as much on the individuals directly involved as the problem being faced.

In other words; The behavior of:

Reach for the tool I used last time this happened

Isn’t always (or even often in some contexts) likely to yield good results.

The last few years have been brutal for just about everyone… I’ve been studying neuroscience, cognition, cognitive biases, organizational psychology, team dynamics1,
taking classes to become a certified coach specializing in helping others move through trauma… and making art2

… because what’s the point in life, without the ability to appreciate, and regularly experience beauty and wonder?

My definition of “Success
Finding the happy path where EVERYONE’s needs are met, and almost everyone’s wants are accommodated…

It’s a high bar.
but it feels good to know that everyone is winning, and that the collaboration increased the quality of the work, and the quality of life, of everyone involved.

  • I’m an open book. WSYIWSG.

  • I believe that MOST humans are inherently good.

  • I believe that treating others with kindness, compassion, and empathy is a core requirement of TRULY solving problems.

Despite all our efforts and preparation; not awesome stuff still happens…

  • I make mistakes.
    • I try not to repeat them.
  • I demonstrate that it’s OKAY to make mistakes…
    • So long as WHEN you do, you do everything possible to make it right, and own the fallout….

That’s how we learn, improve, and grow… as individuals and organizations.

  • I champion others’ successes.

  • I think differently than most.

  • I invite others to challenge my ideas.

  • I expect everyone to treat their peers with respect, and try and understand where they’re coming from.

  • I want to work with people who I believe truly want to do the RIGHT thing…

Not because someone will punish them if they don’t…


Sadly, there’s fewer places where this aligns with the org’s ethos these days than there used to be.