Zombie Zen

Posts tagged "Mentoring"

Creating Things Is Tough

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When I was mentoring a FIRST robotics team, the fundamental revelation I had was seeing how the robot the team built became a part of our identities. When we won a match, it was validation. When we lost a match, it was a reflection of our failures. Being a mentor gave me a level of detachment, but the students working on the robot did not have that luxury. For many, this was their outlet they took pride in. And losing gave that wretched inner voice (the voice of the bullying they had endured) hold to beat them down.

When I started working in the software industry, I soon came to realize that we are not that different (myself included). Even the terminology — team — evokes tribalism. Pitching a design to your team and having it fall flat feels much the same as losing. But often in industry, you don’t have the safety net of a mentor. You either have your previous experiences or you don’t. And there’s the pressure of financial stability. Fundamentally, this adds stress and hampers creativity. (Also open office plans, but I digress.) To me, that’s why I prioritize supporting my team above all else. The easy thing is to be critical of others; the right thing is to find how you can help them succeed. Creating something worthwhile usually requires vulnerability. Don’t exploit that: see it for the gift it is.

(Originally from a Twitter thread.)