Tuesday’s thoughts 08-11-2020

Good morning,

You don’t change who you are. You change how you react. The power of this statement falls def to most. Those who understand it respond with upward-pointing finger emojis and “THIS” gifs. It’s true, certain things about you, you can’t change. I’d argue that in some cases you shouldn’t want to.

Many years ago a co-worker reluctantly shared with me something he had overheard. He informed me that a member of the senior leadership team called me fragile. I tried not to show it, but I was pissed. “WHAT DOES HE MEAN FRAGILE?!” I thought to myself. Point and case right? That conversation has lingered in my mind ever since.

I was determined to vanquish my fragility. Actually no, that wasn’t enough. I wanted to become anti-fragile. I made a lot of improvements, but there was a problem. Whenever I’d slip up, I’d consider my efforts to be in vain. How would I ever escape or change this part of me? You see I was trying to change who I was. I thought it was a binary identity. I was either fragile or not fragile. It wasn’t until years later when I took a personality test that something clicked.

Somehow I ended up taking a big five personality test. Two categories in particular stuck out. Those two categories were withdrawal and volatility. I scored “Very High” in both. In fact, I was in the 91st percentile for withdrawal and the 94th percentile for volatility. Volatility reads “reacts quite strongly to disappointment, frustration, and pain.” A section from withdrawal reads “gets discouraged rapidly”. Sounds like that fragile comment was pretty accurate huh?

Reading the descriptions of these categories helped me understand myself and my personality better. I then started to ask questions of myself. If this is truly part of who I am, why should I change it? How do I mitigate the negative aspects of these traits? What if any benefits do they bring? Embracing these traits gave me the freedom to become incrementally better with each day. A failure to maintain my composure was a lesson to learn not actually a failure.

Over time I learned their benefits. I’m very detail-oriented, others say meticulous. That level of detail and care I give to my work comes from these traits. I have an extremely high sensitivity to failure. And that’s a strength when it comes to creating things. Don’t assume I accepted these traits as they are. To this day I still continue to work at improving and monitoring my reactions. Being aware of my tendency to strongly and often overly react has helped me alter my reaction. I do my best to reflect and ensure I’m providing a proper response. I spent my twenties trying to become who I wanted to be. I’ll spend my thirties discovering who I am.

What I’m reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

I’m more introverted that I expected. The book is helping me understand why I prefer solitude and writing over presenting. It also bringing awareness to the fallacy of open workspaces. Funny enough, it feels like even in this remote-first world we work in an open office. Thanks, Slack…

What I’m learning

Terraform. A lesson from the 4-hour Chef that stuck with me was “The quality of your resources is critical to your acquisition of skills” Here’s a trick I use to find high-quality resources. I ask people who teach what I want to learn what resources they recommend. To get started with Terraform I watched Terraform on Azure: Infrastructure as Code from Scratch on CloudSkills. One of the instructors was Luke Orellana, he’s clearly very knowledgeable. So I reached out and asked him what he’d recommend as the Bible of Terraform. Without hesitation, he said Terraform Up and Running. Boom, I found my next book.

If you want to stay up to date with Terraform, follow Luke.

What I’m working on

This email newsletter. I’m working on a welcome sequence and creating new habits that will keep me at it.