I always feel a few minutes of anxiety before a work day starts, I think it lingers from my first days at Sea as I descended into a noisy sweltering engine room full of fear. When we gather for our standup we start with a few minutes of small talk, to ease those nerves. Small talk reminds me we are all human, not monsters from the deep. The talk is unremarkable but it’s a time for empathy: Jeff’s boiler just broke, the trains were delayed last night. It’s a time for appreciation: your holiday sounded great, I like your new jeans. When builds break overnight, help is generously offered. It sets a tone for the day: we’ll support each other and we care for each other. It brings confidence.
We share our achievements and ask for feedback, a description, perhaps a demo, openly listening to feedback without fear; with vulnerability because we’re looking for a better way.
We share our problems: I struggled with this class, we empathise, help is offered from those who’ve struggled there too. Together, with the courage that brings, we resolve to make it better.
We share openly with others outside the development, sometimes we get appreciation, sometimes frustration and pressure. Frustration creates fear, we withdraw a little, sometime we try to go faster. I cut off conversations, I don’t want to hear problems, let’s just finish this. The courage is gone, we pay for it later.
And this is how it goes. Sometimes we are free, our work harbours joy, we create with care and love. Sometimes we feel pressure, we cut corners, we ignore our values and experience stomach churning anxiety in return.