The following quote came from James Clear in his January 2020 newsletter (https://jamesclear.com/3-2-1). “Reading is like a software update for your brain. Whenever you learn a new concept or idea, the ‘software’ improves. You download new features and fix old bugs.”
He says your past is fixed, but your interpretation of it can change depending on the software you use to analyze it. That got me thinking about how we each have different perspectives. In previous blog posts (example https://janetgregory.ca/im-right-im-wrong-all-the-time/), I’ve talked about how it is important to have different people in a conversation to help mitigate confirmation bias.
This morning I read a blog post “Failure Am I” by James Thomas, which really did get me thinking about my own perspective on failures. You can read his post here: https://qahiccupps.blogspot.com/2020/01/failure-am-i.html .
In general, I agreed with the principle that we learn from our failures, but something had bothered me about it – I just wasn’t sure what. I stopped saying “fail fast” (a very common term used in agile development) and started using the term “learn fast” instead, because it felt better to me.
In his post, James Thomas put my mixed feelings into words and his post truly felt like a “software update”. He makes a point saying we don’t have to “fail” to learn. That was what I was missing and hadn’t been able to articulate. Another sentence from Thomas’ post which wasn’t new to me, “learning from an action — positive or negative — requires reflection,” is also a critical piece of the puzzle. The read wasn’t a complete reboot, but it was something that made me look at the world a little bit differently and updated my ideas so I will be able to articulate how I feel about failure and learning better.
As a tester, (or any other development role), I think it is especially important to be open to new ideas, either by learning something new or editing old thoughts and understandings. Read, take courses, have open conversations, but I think the most important aspect, is to reflect on what you have learned, whether it was the result of failing, succeeding or something in between. Oh, … and maybe write about it too.
Based on this little thought experiment, I find myself agreeing with James Clear – we can indeed change our own perspectives. I think it is important to be open to new ideas, either by learning something new or editing old thoughts and understandings.
A question to ponder and to close with – Is it possible to challenge ourselves with our own ideas, to reboot ourselves and change our own software, or do we need to inject someone else’s ideas to adapt?