Which pastimes make you better at your job?
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Consider this your mid-week motivation—here we'll be sharing a new smarter secret from our authors, the people who you learn from and who inspire you to push the limits of your potential. So, we asked: What are your pastimes that have nothing to do with your job, but make you better at your job?
Group hobbies fuel collaboration on the clock.
Playing music = group harmony, customer satisfaction & overcoming stage fright
I love Jazz music, so I had to start playing it. Now I play in a Jazz quartet. Once in awhile we play in front of people (bars, streets, parks), and that is good for several things: First of all, it trains me to speak and stand in front of people. This helps me a lot when talking at IT conferences. Then, I need to rehearse a lot, either or my own, or with the entire band. This helped me to work on my own or with a team. Finally, when you play with a band, you learn how to behave in a team. A team is important. You need to listen to each other, put pressure or take pressure out when necessary, and focus on what’s important: making people happy to listen to your band, or making your customer happy about the software you build. Focus on the other, not just you. –Antonio Goncalves, Senior Software Architect & Java EE consultant
Sports = communication & teamwork
I learned a lot of things that are important for my daily job from team sports like soccer: communicate clear and frequently, be a team player, motivate others, believe that we will succeed and know that we can only succeed as a team. Sports help me switch off and step out of the “thinking-labyrinth” your brain is in when you think about possible coding solutions, about how to structure things and about how to make the apparently impossible possible. Stepping out of that with a pastime outside of your profession lets you enter that “thinking-labyrinth” again from the entrance, and you’ll find better ways and better ideas that help you to create better solutions. –Thomas Claudius Huber, software developer & MVP for Windows Platform Development
Creating something outside of your office can inspire your next success.
Mastering the mechanics of something = committment to learning
I recently bought a mountain bike and I’ve found there’s a lot to learn about the sport and the mechanics of a modern mountain bike—I’ve honestly enjoyed that learning process as much as the actual riding. I like learning and removing the mystery from things I don’t know much about, so I’ve built a picnic table, installed an outdoor fire pit and replaced the fixtures on our kitchen sink. The experience of learning and trying something new was what I enjoyed and even if I never do something like it again, I removed the mystery around it and can now write code while sitting at my new picnic table! –Brice Wilson, developer & Angular expert
Model R/C cars = building scalable apps
Outside of my profession, my favorite hobby is flying model R/C gliders and driving model R/C cars. I’ve been doing this in some form or another all my life, but technology (especially radio, battery and motor technology) has improved the hobby significantly in the last decade or so. And I’ve discovered there are some similarities between flying R/C model airplanes and building highly available web applications (one of my specializations). In some ways, model R/C has given me insights into building highly scaled and highly available applications. –Lee Atchison, Scaling & cloud architect
Magic = creativity, analytic skills and deep thinking
When I was little, I wanted to be a magician. I had to know how everything worked! And now, I think magic makes me better at my job. Not because software engineering is magic (far from it), but because magic tricks require creativity, analytic skills and deep thinking. All of which are required in my profession. If you've never looked into Harry Houdini (a world famous magician), I'd encourage you to learn more about him. You'd be surprised at some of the engineering that went into his magic tricks. You'd be surprised how many skills and ideas from completely unrelated things are transferrable to your profession. –Dustin Schultz, Lead Software Engineer & full stack dev
Building things = solving problems
Home improvement projects are a great opportunity to work with something hands-on, which is a nice change after working in the digital space most of the time. I became a software developer because I enjoy building, creating and solving problems, and those core passions also translate well to more physical projects. I love activities that challenge you to solve problems in creative ways using the tools available. These types of projects have no “undo” button, so they train you to pay attention to details and clearly think through the process ahead!
Broadening interests is also an important part of relating to different types of people and opening up new discussions and ideas. Software development is an increasingly social field, so being able to share experiences with different team members or associates can build stronger relationships. The ability to quickly establish a connection with someone on topics outside of work can be a great way to strengthen a working relationship. –Alex Wolf, .NET developer & motion graphics enthusiast
Free time can fine-tune your leadership and social skills.
Parenting = management
One thing that comes to mind is parenting. As a young father, I had to grow and stretch a lot! Now my kids are getting older, and I feel I’ve gotten a bit wiser. This, I think, translates fairly well to any manager role. You’re asked to put the team first. And you need to be perceptive about how people are doing, so that all the many balls of a modern, tight-deadline project, can stay on track. Any similar mentorship role (camp counselor, sports coach/referee, etc.) would work equally as well. –Dr. Jared DeMott, CTO & security development expert
Traveling = new experiences
I'm synthesizing what I love to do at work with what I love to do for fun, and the synergy that comes from that is incredibly enriching. This year, I've begun reaching out to national and international conference organizers, offering them my services as a presenter at their events. In this way, I get to travel, talk about things that matter to me, inspire people to try new things, see new places, meet new people, eat new foods and gain new knowledge. In turn, this makes me better at my job. –William W. Davis, IT Ops & project management
So, what’s your secret to being smarter?
Share it with us: #SmarterThanYesterday.