Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Honoring Ones Own Way

Comparing ourselves to others is so destructive! Even though many of us know this is true, we still do it! Sometimes we are extremely harsh with ourselves. We look at other people's skills, abilities and ways of doing things and we idealize them, while at the same time we look at our skills, abilities and ways of doing things and we discount them.

What is that about?

I was telling a story the other day about an experience I had many years ago as a software designer and programmer. I have a particular way that I write programs or solve any complex problem. It usually involves lots of paper and diagrams that help me segment out what I'm working on and see the actual relationships visually on paper.

I am actually pretty good at solving complex problems, but *not* in my head! I need to write things down and figure them out on paper.

When I was in college, taking computer programming classes, I would write my programs out on paper. I would start with a bunch of blank sheets of paper and I would label each one with a function that needed to be performed in my program. I would logically split out the program into various tasks/activities that needed to be performed. I would start very generally, and add sheets of paper for the 'sub tasks' as I got into more specific detailed actions.

By the time I was done writing any program, I had a stack of paper. I could easily rearrange the order of the pieces as I needed to. Every single line of code was actually on that paper when I was finished. It was ready to be typed directly into the computer.

I rarely had logic errors. Usually my errors were limited to 'syntax' errors caused by typos! My programs were always well thought out and met the objectives set for them.

I hung out with a lot of programmers in school and at work. In the company I worked for, I was one of three database designers/programmers. The two other guys were really experienced, talented programmers. They both coded in their head. They would just sit at the computer and type in their code straight away. Somehow they could hold all the logic in their head in a way I had never been able to do.

I started to feel inadequate compared to these two co-workers. I felt like 'their way' was superior to 'my way.'

One day I decided I was being silly and I should just be able to code like they did - straight out of my head onto the computer. So I gave it a try. I had a complex process to write a program to accomplish. I worked on it ALL DAY (to the tune of 8 hours!)

As I neared completion of the program, I felt proud, but it was also much harder than it would have been if I'd done it 'my way.' It took me longer, and I was pretty sure I was going to have some 'logic' errors in addition to my 'syntax' errors.

Then the unthinkable happened. Our computer system crashed (this was a Xenix multi user system). ALL MY WORK WAS LOST! All of it. I hadn't saved during the day (OK, that was a silly mistake). And, because i hadn't written anything down... all my work was lost. I was devastated.

This powerful experience left a lasting impression on me. I realized that I had basically dishonored myself with what I had done. I tried to force myself to do something that was against my nature. The universe let me know that not only was this not necessary, but that it could also be quite painful and costly.

I never tried to code straight on to the computer out of my head... ever again. I still, to this day, draw diagrams and write out my information requirements on paper when I'm trying to solve a problem. In fact, I just finished doing a complex database design... on paper!

It is very important in life that we learn to honor our own unique way of doing things and our own rhythm in our life. We are not like anyone else and we're not supposed to be!

Honor yourself as the amazing creation that you are! The world wouldn't be the same without YOU!