… Hi, team-mate. :)

Part of my job, I think, is to make it easier for people to work with me. After a few team transitions this past year and a lot of bumping around in the get-to-know-you months, I theorized that a short primer — lets call this “JOY.README” — might be useful to people who haven’t worked with me before (or have, but haven’t successfully read my mind).

TOC

  1. My “ideal” working environment.
  2. What I’m bad at (and working on):
     — I can be impatient for results.
     — I’m insecure, technically.
     — Disappointment can hit me hard.
     — My time estimates tend to be overly optimistic.
  3. What I’m good at (and you can likely count on me to do):
     — I care deeply about the people I work with, and want our interests to align.
     — I empathize.
     — I’m results driven, so we usually get results.
  4. Other traits:
     — I highly value context.
     — I highly value responsiveness.
     — If there aren’t other people excited about work I’m doing, I get apathetic.
     — I cry.
     — I have a history of being a little depressive.

First, my ideal working environment.

Fully understanding that I won’t always get to live in developer-bliss, I do have some idea of what my ideal work environment is like:

I’m happiest in a small, stable team, doing a mix of technical and product work. I’m most engaged when I feel included in relevant product discussions and have strong ownership of something end-to-end. I appreciate human connection and interaction, particularly opportunities to help and be helped.

Second, what I’m bad at (and working on).

I can be impatient for results. My natural instinct is to optimize for speed, not necessarily quality. I’m always asking “How can we get what we want, faster and easier?” and it can lead to severed corners and rough edges. My rational mind is always fighting that, and timely conversation with wiser colleagues is greatly appreciated.

I’m insecure, technically. I’m even less confident than I sound. I am learning how to still be effective, given the reality of my ignorance. I think to myself, “I care more about the task than how good I feel about myself. Bring on the hard things.” Then, at some point I get sad about how bad at my job I am. I then take time to get over it, and do it all over again. It’s a cycle of learning.

Disappointment can hit me hard. Someone told me, “High performers have certain habits, including beating themselves up a lot when they don’t match their impossible standards.” Another just says I’m an “over-achiever.” I consider myself … hopeful, and still calibrating how to be disappointed.

I’m hopeful that things will work out, finish on time, that there are no complications. Hopeful that I’m less naïve and more wise. Hopeful that we built *just the right thing* and everyone will be happy. I’m often let down. I sometimes experience the human version of the blue screen of death when things don’t go well. I reboot, but it may take a while. I’m working on shortening that interval and preemptively reaching out for the 1:1 conversations that kick me onto a better path.

Due to too much hopefulness, my time estimates tend to be overly optimistic. I imagine things going smoothly, and have trouble anticipating unknown complexity. Thorough specs sometimes help. So does multiplying my imagined timeline by 2.

Third, what I’m good at (and you can likely count on me to do).

I care deeply about the people I work with and want our interests to align. The one thing I hate more than disappointing myself is disappointing people I care about. If you’re working with me, you’ll quickly become one of the people I hate to disappoint. I want others to feel that my presence and effort adds to their experiences and their effort. It’s pretty fair to say my entire existence revolves around that value.

I empathize. Sometimes I forget that I feel things, because I’m too busy imagining what everyone else is feeling. Whether it’s the user, team-mates, or other folks here, I have internal models of everyone I care about, accurate or not, and they guide me.

I’m results-driven, so we usually get results. The flip side of impatience and high standards: I prioritize viciously, execute as fast as I can, and follow through. Because I love results, I usually do deliver.

Last, other traits to note.

I highly value context. I like stories, I like humans, and I like conversation. I like people a whole lot more than computers, and I get into self-defeating, apathetic circles if I don’t have additional context from vantages vaster and wiser than mine. Please invite me to all the meetings. I’ll not come if not valuable to me, and I’ll not talk unless I think it’s valuable to you. Plus, being caught up later is so much less fun. :)

I highly value responsiveness. The perception of being ignored or forgotten has, historically, hurt my ability to work with others. Whether it’s a code review or a conversation, feeling snubbed hurts my trust. I need some response — positive obviously preferred, but deferrals are also completely satisfactory (e.g. “Give me 15 minutes to wrap something up.” or “Can we talk tomorrow morning?”)

If there aren’t other people excited about work I’m doing, I get apathetic. I have a hard time justifying things that I want, and by extension, have trouble finding intrinsic meaning in my work. I instead rely heavily on people around me to indirectly confer meaning on what I do. People are often surprised when I feel apathetic while on a project that I was once personally excited about. It likely became unclear that the work was valuable to others. I do have preferences/priorities, but they’re pretty mutable, and I tend not to weight them heavily.

I cry. It’s embarrassing and I feel bad about how I probably make other people feel bad. It won’t necessarily be big things, but when I get emotional (oftentimes while talking), I just tear up. Too many feels.

Relatedly, I have a history of being a little depressive. I can get really sad, for a day, or a few days at a time. You can read about one variant of it on Medium. It’s been better lately, but it’s like a chronic flu I haven’t shaken off the symptoms of. Sometimes it sneaks up on me and gets worse. I might be more emotionally absent during those periods. I sometimes run away and need naps.

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