High Resilience

I just took 2 quizzes that really opened my eyes to the life I live and the state of my well being. The first quiz was one about how vulnerable to stress am I. I don’t even recall the score but I am pretty sure that I scored about as low as you can on this, meaning I am “at risk” as it put it or critical, something like that. In other words, I took this to mean that stress could and probably should be crumbling me. Then I take the quiz on how resilient am I and score on the other end of the spectrum. I am apparently very resilient. This got me thinking, “Wow there’s a word for what I am?”.

I have throughout my life wondered how I deal with some of the stresses that I have so well. I don’t consider myself to have a sound support system around me. In fact, I often feel that I am the support system for others and I can’t show the emotion as they need me to be strong. This has been my mode of operation for some time. Now that isn’t too say I haven’t broke down and had my issues but I always seem to bounce back. I just keep hearing the P.Diddy song “Can’t nobody hold me down” playing every time I think about any of things I have worked through.

So how do I continue to improve this already high resilience? How do I strive for perfection? Here’s a couple things I plan on doing going forward and why I think they will help.

1. Running – I need my time where I can just run from everything, talk to god and sweat out all the worries I have.
2. Baseball – I need my time to escape and forget what I am dealing with and just be.
3. Meditation – I have so much to be thankful for and so much going for me, every time I just sit on my front porch, or walk through the local park it is a sense of inner peace that give me strength.
4. Programming – I need my own projects. I have ideas, solutions and sometimes just want to work out a complex algorithm for fun. I need to give this a higher priority.
5. Reflection – I need to find ways to reflect on struggles, stressors and anything that causes me pain and express the feelings and emotions.

Lastly, as with everything in my life I plan to do continued research on the topic and see what I can learn to continue to improve.

Managing Stress

This week in Unstoppable is about stress management and resilience, two things I am all too comfortable with. It’s funny because just this week I was reflecting back on grade school and it must have been 7th or 8th grade and the teacher asked the question if anyone in the room didn’t experience stress. I remember raising my hand and telling the teacher that I didn’t because I didn’t know what “stress” means. I was telling this to my daughter who has her own issues dealing with different stresses and telling her that whether we understand the cause or not our lives are filled with stress. It is how we handle that stress that matters. I told her that there is no outcome from such a stress as a homework assignment or paper that we can’t get through together and that there is always tomorrow. The phrase I love to tell her, my apprentices and anyone stressing about something is “What’s the worst that can happen? will the world still be here? Will the birds still be chirping? then how bad could it be…”

These are words that I live by now. As with anyone else I have my good days and bad with stress. The important thing is that tomorrow always comes and quite often the tomorrow that comes often arrives with a bird outside my window chirping which brings a nice inner peace from whatever was bothering me the night before. Stress is a regular part of everyone’s life, how we manage it determines it’s effect on us. In this post I want to share a few stress management tips I have come up with.

1. Exercise
This is by far my #1 way I deal with stress these days. When things get overbearing and I can no longer breathe I go on a run. Quite often this run goes much further than previous ones or through a calming place around me but nevertheless I get out on the road and just listen to what God wants me to hear. I run at the pace that feels best given the situation, I take no breaks and just keep pushing through until an inner peace is found. This is my time to deal with the obstacle before me and I need time to process and think.
Another place I exercise my stress management is on the baseball field. Specifically, when I can get on the mound. When I am pitching I am not so much managing my stress but escaping it for a short time. When I step to the mound and face down at the batter my mind becomes solely focused on the game and the next pitch I am about to throw. I hear the world around me in terms of the game and outside stressors are not welcome until the game is over or I am off the mound. It is the one escape I have had. I suppose that is why I struggle so hard when I can’t take that place because of my shoulder.

2. Focus on Solutions
A great source of stress is situational and caused by the imminent decisions and actions we must take next. Many people react to these situation with emotion and compromise their mind by not focusing on the task at hand. This is what many have come to expect. When someone is able to put that emotion aside and react with focus, calm demeanor and find solutions they are called “cold”. There is nothing cold about this, some deal with stress differently but the stress doesn’t resolve until a solution is found. Sometimes that solution isn’t what we want if someone isn’t the cold one trying to find a better way out.

3. Express the Stress
If there is one thing here I am guilty of and could coach someone on in terms of stress management and what not to do it is hold everything in. Holding everything in is never the answer. This is where many are lucky to have a close friend can leverage them and tell them everything in your life. We need that opportunity to express the stress. When you don’t have that, when you aren’t comfortable telling anyone what you are going through you need to find another way. Having been in this dilemma without a friend I have found writing it out on paper can help. Just expressing what you are feeling through your own words. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a journal or something you keep but can even be destroyed the minute its complete. The idea is that you express it and get it out. Just like in talking with someone, writing it out gives you the opportunity to let the emotion out and deal with the feelings you have. Then just as with a friend it can be over and never mentioned again unless you need more time.

This already quite long so I will close with this thought on not managing stress well. Stress is never an accomplice or an excuse, stress doesn’t make us do anything. It is out choice how we let stress effect out lives, our attitudes and ultimately our outcomes. If things aren’t going the way you want it is an inner question to yourself that needs an answer of how can you change to achieve your dreams.

Git rid of unwanted files…

In working with the apprentices that I work with a common issues is forgetting to add a .gitignore file when you initially setup the repository. This can suck in the long run as many files that you don’t want to track start showing up in your repository and worse yet in merge conflicts with other users. A great example of this is the files within the target/ folder in NetBeans (Java) or for my .NET, Visual Studio folks, the files within the bin/ directory. In either case these are the files that are getting built by the code that we wrote and we only want the code in the repository not the assemblies and jars, right… So how do we fix the mistake once it has already happened?…

To fix this issue you want to start by getting the .gitignore file in the repository pronto. To do this, why create it from scratch… instead here is a link to a github repo with many .gitignore files already created and ready for you copying pleasure.

github link

Find the .gitignore file that you need and add it to the repository but don’t commit just yet.

With the .gitignore file in play start running git rm to get rid of the unwanted files.

Example: git rm -rf MyProject/bin/

the git rm is to remove the files from the repository
-r will recursively traverse the directory for any subfolders
-f forces the files out
MyProject/bin/ is the directory to remove, this can also be a single file as well.

Now once you run this command you will see the files marked as deleted but they should not now nor ever show back up to be added to the repository with the .gitignore properly in the repository. Thus, it is safe to remove the files and forget they were ever part of the repo.

Special Note: in working in teams, make sure other members of the team pull your changes after deleting such files. If they don’t know to look for the deletions they may accidentally override your changes and all the files back. A good practice here would be to get everyone on the same commit, remove the files and then have everyone pull the new commit without the files and continue working.

Productivity Weekly Review

As discussed in previous posts, I am working with a new productivity system, Nozbe, and trying to make myself more effective by using the tool to help guide me. This Unstoppable course has definitely brought a few stopping points for me to force a reflection and review of how I have been doing things, what is important and what really needs my focus. This coupled with the start of a new class at work has cost me productivity in the short term but for a possible long term gains.

This week has focused on the idea behind a weekly review and making sure to take the time to review the productivity system and make adjustments on a specific interval. This is something I think we all do at times but in no specific interval and not in the way we should. I mean to find a specific time to sit and go through tasks and reprioritize. Thus I have been thinking of a good agenda for such a meeting to make it quick, productive and something that I could see doing each week. So far I have come up with the following agenda items:

  • Review Priority Queue in Nozbe
  • Review Projects in Nozbe
  • Prioritize new tasks
  • Review tasks related to meetings for coming week
  • Reflect on previous week and what worked and what didn’t
  • Have a 30 minute brainstorming whiteboard session

Now I use an unordered list here because I am not positive on the order of the agenda as of yet. I need to go through this a few times and see. I am thinking that this meeting with myself will most likely happen on the weekend on Saturday. I may adjust the day and time to ensure better productivity.

I also added the whiteboard session because I feel all too often I cram too much in my head and then hide it there until I feel it is an appropriate time to let it out. This is not healthy for sure and something I need to get away from. I have few outlets and I think a white boarding session would be an awesome way to go. I can’t wait to try this one soon. I wish I had done this over the weekend so I could have done it already but I let a cold get the best of me this weekend. Definitely look for a post on the whiteboard session next week.

New Task System Wows

This week the unstoppable course has left a mark of reflection yet again… Only in a very unexpected way…

Ever feel that your system of staying organized was good and that you were on top of your to-do list? I did. I thought I had a pretty good system and that I was very responsive to the things that I had to get done. Rarely would I let something fall through the cracks and quite often I would be thanked by colleagues and family members for getting things done and in a relatively timely manner. I really thought I had a decent system.

I thought wrong…

Through the last couple of weeks I have been challenged to write out my goals, my to-do items and basically do a brain dump of everything going on in my head. Ever do this? If not, try it… It is very liberating. When I did what I found is that I was barely scratching the surface with the lists and inboxes that I kept in trying to stay on task. What I also realized is that I was very NOT in control of my task lists.

Let’s start with a picture of my old system.

My old system had multiple pieces that would float in and out as time allotted and as my mind remembered to use them. The key medium were my email inboxes, a to-do list application on my mobile device and written to-dos I would put on either post-it notes or a whiteboard. Quite often the email inboxes would take precedence followed by the phone and then paper. Occasionally if I knew something was super important I would use the post-it first. With this system I thought I had control because I knew all the places to look for items to do. I knew to look in my email, then this email and my app and then paper. I thought I had control. WHOOPS!

In just a nice of sitting down in front of Nozbe, an application I am asked to test run as part of Unstoppable I realized how bad I had become. My lists covered upwards of 20 some projects and over 66 tasks I wrote down. As I started breaking things into projects I started adding smaller more focused tasks. I have not come near completion of my lists but what I can tell you is that I owe some people a world of apologies. I was putting things off and not focusing on projects that mattered to me because I thought they took too much effort and the tasks were too big. I felt I didn’t have time to work on this or that because well, to get that done I had to do 5 things. Well sure, but what if I did item 1 now, 2 in a day or two and 3 and 4 over the weekend.

Once I started writing out the tasks I had to do I lost my sense of control with my old system. I don’t know that I feel control yet with this this new system but I can tell you that I know I need to get control and once I do I think that I can get even more done. The challenge is getting out of my head and into something I can see. One place to rule them all and to see a complete list of tasks and items. I don’t know if Nozbe will be my answer but I will definitely be finding out now that I see the multiple approach really had me out of control and at the mercy of the lists.