Stephanie has a win and a gripe from her client project this week. In a previous episode, Joël talked about his work exploring how to model dependent side effects, particularly D&D dice rolls. He went from the theoretical to the practical and wrote up a miniature D&D damage dice roll app that you put in a few inputs. Then it will roll all the dice necessary and tell you did you successfully hit your target and, if so, how much damage you did.
Together, they discuss how they think about fulfillment at work and what brings them fulfillment as developers.
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- Joël's DnD dice roll app production site and repo
- Engineering Management for the Rest of Us
- The Five Love Languages
JOËL: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bike Shed, a weekly podcast from your friends at thoughtbot about developing great software. I'm Joël Quenneville.
STEPHANIE: And I'm Stephanie Minn. And together, we're here to share a bit of what we've learned along the way.
JOËL: So, Stephanie, what's new in your world?
STEPHANIE: So I have a win, I suppose, and a gripe from my client project this week that I would love to share. So my win is that I've been working in React lately. And I might have mentioned this on a previous episode, but it's been a few years for me. So I'm kind of catching up on the new, hot tooling, you know, whatever is popular in that world these days, and having to read a lot of documentation to figure out how to use it and just in general, I think being a little bit outside my comfort zone.
And I was working on an existing React component that was untested, and I had to change and extend some functionality in it. And we're also a little bit on a deadline. So there's like a little bit of pressure on the team to be delivering. And so when I got this ticket, I was like, okay, I am seeing this existing component that looks also a few years outdated. It's using some of the older technology that we've kind of moved on from.
And I was just like, oh, I really should write tests for this before I go in and change some things just to feel confident that my changes don't break anything because it was pretty gnarly. But I was not in the mood for it. [laughs] And this was like two or three days ago. I was just very grumpy. And I was like, oh man, why do I have to do it? [laughs] I kind of wanted to just get into making the changes so I could deliver on this work.
So, spoiler, I did not write the tests that day and just kind of went ahead with the changes. But then, the next morning, I woke up, and I was feeling inspired. I was like, I made those changes, but I'm actually not feeling that confident about it. So let me go back and try to write some tests. And I got to use the new tools I had been looking into, and that was part of my hesitation too. I was like, oh man, this is like a really old component.
And I don't want to use the older ones that we're using for testing. But how is it going to play with the newer testing tools that we're using? And so there was just like a lot of, I think, barriers to me feeling excited about writing those tests. But with my renewed energy, I did it. And I feel very happy about it and proud of myself. Yeah, that's my little win.
JOËL: That's a roller coaster of a journey there. That sort of deception when you find out that there are no tests for this and somebody else's problem has kind of become your problem. But then you decide you don't want it to be your problem, you know, kick it down the road for somebody else. And then you feel good about yourself, and you decide to backfill the test anyway. And you get that confidence, and now everything's better for everybody. That is quite the journey.
STEPHANIE: Exactly. I listened to another podcast recently where they coined this term called tantrum logic, which is basically the idea that when you're kind of grumpy or something happens, and you're like, man, I don't want to do any of this, like, if I can't do it my way, then I don't want to do it at all. [laughs]
And just the idea that the way you're thinking about the issue at hand may not be totally grounded in reality. And I think I needed that reset and just a good night's sleep and going to do something else to come back and be like, actually, I do want to write those tests, even if it will be challenging. I'm in a better mind space for it. Mind space? Headspace? [laughs] Headspace for it. And I overcame the tantrum logic.
JOËL: A good night's sleep is just such a powerful tool for resetting.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, I agree. Shout out to sleep. [laughs] It turns out that it can really have a positive effect on how you feel.
JOËL: By the way, this is not an advertisement. We are not sponsored by sleep. We just both love it and recommend it.
STEPHANIE: [laughs] To get into my gripe a little bit, so you and I are on the same client project we've mentioned before on the show. And I think I even talked a little bit about receiving a new computer from our client to do our client work on. So now I have many devices at home. And we had also chatted previously about a note-taking app that we both use called Obsidian.
And one of the reasons that I really like it is because it's all local storage. So your notes are not being uploaded to the cloud or whatever. But that does make it hard to use on multiple, I mean, not just hard, impossible to use [laughs] on multiple devices unless you pay for it. They have a sync offering where you can use it on multiple devices. And I think it's also encrypted in a certain way.
Anyway, sometimes I'll be working on my client laptop and have some idea or thought that I really want to note down, but I don't have Obsidian installed on this machine, and it's not synced to my other Obsidian. And I have just been kind of annoyed about having to go open another computer to write a thought down if I want to document it. And I'm curious how you deal with this problem.
JOËL: So the downside of Obsidian not being a cloud product is that you don't just get that sync for free. The upside of it just being markdown files on your hard drive is that you can use any other product or tool that you want to manipulate these files. So I have my Obsidian vault, which is just the term for the directory where it keeps all of these files in a Dropbox directory. And so I have it sync across multiple machines just by being signed into my Dropbox account.
STEPHANIE: That's smart. And that sync is pretty smooth for you? You don't have any issues with updating it in one spot and seeing those changes in another?
JOËL: I have not had issues with that. Of course, I'm not jumping between machines within 30 seconds of each other. Generally, I'm also connected to the internet. So I haven't had a situation where I make a change to a machine not connected to the internet, and then later on, I edit an old version on a different machine that is connected to the internet, and now we have conflict. I've not run into that problem.
STEPHANIE: Okay, cool. That sounds good. It's funny you mentioned that because it's just the other day, off-mic; you and I were on a call doing a little bit of pairing. And you were on both machines at the same time [laughs] because we had to use one for our call. And then you were looking something up on your client computer as well. And the thought of you just using two computers at once was very amusing to me.
JOËL: It's the ultimate hacker move in...I was going to say bad, but that's maybe a little bit too judgmental, but yeah, in classic, I feel like police shows, things like that.
STEPHANIE: I do have one more thought about note-taking that we haven't talked about before. But I'm really curious, how do you deal with thoughts you have on the road during a time you don't have a device on you? Do you go and write that down somewhere, or what do you do with those?
JOËL: I have an absolutely awful solution, which is I add it to my mental stack and hope it doesn't overflow before I get to a computer.
STEPHANIE: That's really funny because I used to do something similar where if I had a to-do list or something like that in my head, I would remember the number of items on my list to try to cue me into remembering what those items were. The worst thing that would happen is I would remember that I had three things on my to-do list but could only remember two. And so I had to just [laughs] deal with my existential anxiety about knowing that there was something else that I had forgotten about but could not remember [laughs] for the life of me what it was.
JOËL: So I do that trick sometimes for my grocery list if I don't want to write it down. I'll just be like, oh yeah, go to the grocery store, make sure there are five items in my basket when I check out. And similar to you, sometimes I have that problem. I had a light-bulb moment the other day, which is that this trick is actually an example of hashing content.
JOËL: So if you're ever hashing the contents of a file and then wanting to compare if another file is the same and you check the hashes are the same. In a sense, you're kind of hashing your grocery list and your shopping cart and trying to see do they both hash to the same value? Now, a good hashing algorithm has an infinitesimally low chance of a collision. Counting the number of items in your list or cart has a fairly high chance of a collision. You could have a cart and a list that both have five items, but they're not the same items. Yet this comparison would still make you think that they're the same.
STEPHANIE: This is a very funny metaphor to me. I think the other issue is that as a human and not a computer, I do not have the mental storage space to then also remember what algorithm [laughs] I'm using to hash my to-do list.
JOËL: The algorithm is the count function.
STEPHANIE: [laughs] True, true, a more sophisticated algorithm then. [laughs]
JOËL: Yes, which is why I keep using this not very safe, but it's good enough.
STEPHANIE: Sometimes, we just need to be good enough. So, Joël, what's new in your world?
JOËL: So, in a previous episode, I think we talked about some work I was doing exploring how to model dependent side effects, particularly D&D dice rolls. So this week, I went from the theoretical to the practical and wrote up a miniature D&D damage dice roll app that you put in a few inputs, and then it will roll all the dice necessary and tell you did you successfully hit your target, and if so, how much damage did you do? And it takes into account all these edge cases.
STEPHANIE: Cool. That's so exciting because I think we mentioned last time how that would be a really interesting exercise to write up that code. Did you get any insight from doing that?
JOËL: I think a lot of the insight that I got came from the initial diagramming phase. And I think coding it out really solidified the things that I had learned from the diagramming. Of interest here is that there are effectively or potentially four separate dice-rolling phases that can happen. First, you're rolling to see can you hit your target? And depending on the situation, you're rolling one or two dice.
And then after that, you're rolling to see if you do hit, how much damage you do. And you're either rolling one set of dice, or you might be rolling two sets of dice if you happen to do a critical hit. So I think that the diagram that I had clearly showed these are four sets of randomness that have to happen and then how they relate to each other. These two are dependent on each other; these two are independent.
I think one thing that was really interesting that I learned from the code is that for something like a dice roller, you usually don't want to see just the result. Because if I just have a button that says how much damage did I do, and then I get a number back that says, "You did zero damage," or "You did three damage," as a person, that's not very satisfying. And I don't know that I fully trust it. I want to see all the intermediate results. So I want to see, oh, did I roll two different dice for that initial two-hit? What were the numbers?
And then I can say, okay, well, I need to roll above a five or roll above a 10. And I rolled these two dice, and they were both under 10. That makes sense why I didn't hit. Or I rolled one of them above and one of them below, but I was rolling with disadvantage, which means I have to take the lower of the two numbers. So I could have hit, but I didn't. So I think that is really fun as a user to see the intermediate steps. But also, as a developer, it helps me to be confident that the code I wrote works the way I expect it to.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's really neat. I think what I love about this is that you took something that, in some ways, could be really simple, right? And the implementation could have been just the first thing that you thought of, but you thought very deeply about it and made the dice roller that you wanted in the world. [laughs] I'm curious. Can anyone go check out this repo on the internet?
JOËL: Yes. So we can link to the repo in the show notes. And also, the dice roller itself is up online at dnd-damage-roller.netlify.app. And we can link that as well for anybody who wants to go and check it out.
JOËL: I think my goal in this is it's more of a learning exercise. I don't think the world needs another D&D dice roller. There are better ones built into more comprehensive tools. But it was fun for me to work on this, to explore some ideas, and to dig into randomness. I've always had a fascination with random rolls.
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STEPHANIE: So it sounds like the Dice Roller app really scratched an itch for you and was a fulfilling exercise for you and just exploring randomness, like you mentioned, and just a theory that you had about writing good code. I'm curious about how you think about fulfillment at work in general and what brings you fulfillment as a developer.
JOËL: Fulfillment is really interesting because I think it's a really kind of personal question. It probably varies a little bit from person to person. But there are probably also some aspects that are global to everyone. I know we've talked about things like psychological safety in the past. And if you don't have things like that, that baseline, it's going to be hard to feel fulfilled.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, I agree. I am thinking of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and in some ways, fulfillment is kind of the tip of the pyramid. If you are feeling safe and like you belong and get enough sleep, like we mentioned earlier, you can reach towards getting into what really feels fulfilling and gives you purpose in life.
JOËL: I love that you brought up Maslow's pyramid because like you said, that top part is self-actualization. So you need all those lower layers before you can actually reach the point of true fulfillment on the job. One thing I recently realized about myself is how I tend to approach projects that are in a difficult place. I find a lot of fulfillment in sort of relative change. It doesn't matter if a project is in a bad place as long as the project on a week-by-week basis is moving in the right direction. It might still be in a bad place, but is it better than last week? And was I a part of making that better? That makes me feel good.
STEPHANIE: Yes. I have always really admired your optimism around that and how you share even small wins. You're really good about that, actually, and celebrating that. And it's interesting to learn that it's like that process itself that has a lot of meaning for you. Because I think I'm a little bit different in the sense that I have an ideal version of working in my head, and if we're not there, even if we are making some incremental progress week to week, I think I struggle.
Sometimes I feel frustrated or stressed because I think that we're just not where I want to be. And I've definitely been thinking about harnessing some of that optimism and celebration that you have around, just making things better a little bit at a time.
JOËL: And I think we should be clear that this is not the way one has to be; this is just how I tend to feel on projects.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, absolutely.
JOËL: I know there are plenty of people who feel most fulfilled when they're on projects where things are mostly good. And then it's not about incremental improvement in the product, but maybe it's shipping a lot of features and feeling like they're moving very quickly. Maybe it's that feeling of speed that gives them fulfillment rather than the feeling of incremental progress.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, absolutely. I think what is helpful for me in hearing about this from you and just from others (I love talking to other people and learning about what motivates them.) is seeing what else is possible outside of my own little universe inside my head and doing the self-reflection to be like, okay cool, this works for Joël, but maybe this doesn't work for me. But having the input from other people lets me discover more about myself in that way.
JOËL: That is incredibly powerful. I love that. I think in a variety of aspects of my life, but especially when it comes to fulfillment in software and at work, talking to other people, seeing how they relate to a project or to a particular task, and, like you said, getting to see their perspectives that are sometimes totally different than mine.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, absolutely. So you just mentioned one aspect of how you find fulfillment when a project is maybe in a tougher spot than usual. I'm curious if you can recall a time that you've been the most fulfilled at work.
JOËL: Most fulfilled. I think one of the most fulfilling projects I did was several years ago. We built a dashboard for just exploring a lot of data from medical studies. And so the researchers would upload some time series data for things like heart rate, or skin electro-sensitivity, a bunch of other things, along with a video. It was a kind of an interview-style situation. They were doing a session with a patient.
And we would then sync all of these data streams up. We would sync it up to the video, and then you could kind of explore the data. There were scrubbers, so you could kind of scrub through the video, and it would scrub through the time series data all at the same time in sync. You could scrub through the time series data. It would sync the video kind of like bidirectional. You could zoom in on the data.
The idea is this is a high-level kind of exploratory tool. And you could then find the interesting bits of data that you could then do more quantitative analysis on. So you could then find a part of the stream and say, this is the interesting part. Clip from 10:55 to 11:10 in the stream, on all streams, and then export just that data in a zip file. And then I'm going to put that through a bunch of math and figure out, oh, is there a correlation between these moments?
STEPHANIE: So what about that project was really exciting or fun for you?
JOËL: I think the client was incredibly fun to work with. There was like an energy and excitement. This was part of their, I think, Ph.D. thesis. And they were really excited. They were incredibly knowledgeable, just delightful to work with. I think this was a fun...so we built this from scratch. It was a greenfield app. I think it had a lot of interactivity. It had a lot of visuals. It was one of the first projects I got to work on that used Elm. I think all those things combined to just make it a really fun project to work on.
It was also a fairly short project. So we had a very kind of tight deadline. We were very pragmatic with absolutely everything on there. Like, what can we do to get this done quickly? Is this feature worth the time? It was kind of a classic MVP product. And I think it was one of the most fun things I've built.
STEPHANIE: Cool. I'm also hearing there was probably some creative aspect of it that was really fulfilling for you, like exploring a lot of new things. Like, you said, you were working with Elm for the first time. And the project itself sounds very different from some of our other more typical consulting engagements and also the collaboration aspect. Like, you mentioned the tight deadline, which compelled you all to work really closely together to make this really cool thing in that short amount of time.
JOËL: Exactly. Yeah, it was like a three or four-week project that I look back on really fondly. Like, oh, that was a good time with those two colleagues and that client, and we did a thing. It was really cool.
STEPHANIE: That's awesome.
JOËL: I think it's really interesting that just hearing that story, you're immediately picking up on, like, oh, I see elements of creativity and exploration. Do you have kind of an internal system that you use to analyze projects that you're on to be like, oh, this is a project I'm enjoying because of this element or that? Because you seem very self-aware around these types of things.
STEPHANIE: I'm glad you asked that because I think I was trying to reflect back to you some of the things that I picked up about what you were sharing. I have been reading a book, surprise, surprise.
JOËL: What? You read?
STEPHANIE: I read. [laughs] It's called "Engineering Management for the Rest of Us" by Sarah Drasner. And I am not an engineering manager, and I don't necessarily know if I even want to be. But I really enjoy reading management books to better understand how to manage myself or how to be a person who is managed.
And one of the things she talks about is understanding an individual's values and how those things end up being what motivates them and also likely what brings fulfillment. And so after I learned about the value of values, I started thinking, okay, what is it that I am motivated by? And really reflecting on when I have felt really good about work and also when I felt challenged or unhappy at work and what things were missing during that time.
So the things that I have realized that I am very motivated by are human connection. I love spending quality time with people, and that is probably why I enjoy pairing so much. But also, in my one on ones with my manager, I really enjoy that time just being time for us to share space and get to know each other and talk. It doesn't necessarily need to be going through agenda items or a status report or even necessarily talking about my project.
JOËL: So you mentioned that you value quality time with others. Is that a reference to "The Five Love Languages" concept?
STEPHANIE: It is. It is. I think I also made a bit of a connection there too because what I like in my personal relationships also obviously applies to work.
JOËL: Yeah, it's how you feel appreciated, how you feel fulfilled. And just for our listeners who may not have read this book, I think the concept is that there are five ways that people like to receive appreciation.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, I think receive and both express appreciation and love. And quality time is one of them.
JOËL: Yeah, yeah. And the other four, if I remember correctly, are acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch.
STEPHANIE: Gift-giving is the last one. Yeah, so that was a fun reflection on my part in being able to just know what makes me feel good. And then it also helps me communicate with other people how to work with me. I think that is super important. I love when people share with me what, I mean, I mentioned this earlier, just what drives them and how they like to be appreciated so that I can do my best to try to offer them that.
And I guess this actually is a good transition into the next value of mine that really drives me. I was thinking about this because I mentioned just now that I was learning some new React tools, new to me, anyway. And I'm like, yeah, I like learning. But then I was like; I don't know if I like learning the way other people like learning in the sense that it's not the knowledge itself or the process of learning itself that drives me but learning as a tool to better understand myself. So I think personal development is very important to me. And that feels different from how other people might value learning.
JOËL: Interesting. So you might be excited to learn a new React testing tool but not because you're chasing the latest, shiny tech but more because you feel like the process of learning this testing tool helps you learn something new about yourself.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, I think that sounds right. One of the tools specifically...we're using MSW Mock Service Worker for mocking network requests in Jest. And I was able to use information about testing in Rails and Ruby and apply that to this new tool. And I got to kind of revel in the fact that I could use previous learnings to apply in this new context, and that was really cool to me. So it wasn't necessarily the tool itself or even the process of learning but kind of realizing that I was capable of applying one thing to this less familiar thing.
JOËL: So kind of that realization that, hey, you're now far enough in your career, and you have enough experience. You have a broad base of knowledge that all of a sudden, you realize, wait a minute, I'm not starting from scratch anymore. I can apply lessons learned in the past to learn this new thing and make that easier. And that's a really validating feeling.
STEPHANIE: Exactly. That was really cool to me, and I felt really good afterwards. I think this week at work has been very uplifting because I've been having all these little mini-revelations if you will.
JOËL: I love that. I love that so much.
STEPHANIE: So, one thing that I think is very easily conflated with fulfillment is the idea of success. And I kind of want to talk about the distinction between success and fulfillment. Does that bring up any thoughts for you?
JOËL: Yes. I think the two are often entangled, but they're definitely not the same thing. It is possible to be fulfilled on a project that is not successful. And it's also possible to be on a successful project and yet not feel fulfilled. But oftentimes, the two go together because when things are going well on a project, they're probably also going well in a lot of other ways, and you might be feeling fulfilled as long as general parameters fit in, right? If values line up, things like that.
I know for me I value quality and excellence and doing work that I'm proud of. So I think if I were working at a place that was doing kind of low-quality, low-cost work where it's just like, you know what? You want cheap and low-quality? Come to us. We'll just get it done quick and cheap. And yeah, it's not going to be great, but you get what you pay for.
There's a reason this part of the market exists, and it's a totally valid way to build software. But I would not feel fulfilled there, even though maybe the clients are absolutely happy with the work that's being done. So I think that would be a situation where there is success, but I might not feel personally fulfilled.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up because I think I really struggled in the beginning of my consulting career with equating client happiness with success. And I'm now just starting to kind of unlearn that a little bit and realizing that success means different things to different people. So even if we talk about thoughtbot for just a second, one of thoughtbot's values as a company is seeking fulfillment in everything that we do.
And so even though, like you said, the client might be totally happy, for thoughtbot, that may not be a successful client engagement if you, Joël, as the developer staffed on that project, didn't find fulfillment. Because what's success for us here is that we are fulfilled in the project itself. And that was really helpful because, in some ways, I'm like, well, who cares? Who else cares besides me that I'm fulfilled? And to be like, oh, yeah, actually, what our collective success means is that I'm fulfilled, and you're fulfilled. That was really important to me and one thing that I really appreciate about working here.
JOËL: Fulfillment comes partly from our environment, from maybe the project that we're working on, our colleagues, but also comes to a certain extent from ourselves. And to a certain extent, we can drive that ourselves as well. And I think that first step is a certain amount of self-awareness and self-understanding. You are clearly a master at this. What are some things that you do to drive that self-understanding, to build maybe a sense of how you become fulfilled, and identifying those values that make you feel fulfilled on a project?
STEPHANIE: Listen, [laughs] I don't know if I would call myself a master at this, only that I'm very actively working on it in my life right now, in therapy, but also in talking to other people about this because, yeah, sometimes it has caused me a lot of turmoil. I'll be really stuck in a rut or feeling a lot of burnout, and that, ironically, actually motivates me to be like, how can this be different? And oftentimes, that means I have to look inward.
But you and I had a conversation last week off-mic that was really helpful for me because I was feeling really bummed about my client work and it not going the way that I thought it would. And your insight helped me think about the project a little differently and think about metrics of success differently. For that project, I could not expect that project to look exactly like all of my past experiences. And success for those projects were not the same for this project. So yeah, talking to others, I highly recommend that.
JOËL: I guess you mentioned that you read a lot of management books and a lot of books geared towards managers for discussing things like how to set up a one-on-one. Those are almost like...they're not really therapy, but they kind of lean a little bit towards that sometimes and trying to create fulfillment for your direct reports. So maybe seeing it from the other side helps you build understanding.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, actually, that's totally a great call out because I highly recommend reading books about [laughs] management, even if you're not interested in management. Only because there's no guarantee that you'll have a good manager who can do all those things for you, so if you can equip yourself for doing those things, then you are likely to have a better workplace experience, in my opinion.
JOËL: And I guess the obvious one that we have not talked about is if you do have a good manager, have these conversations with them.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, absolutely.
JOËL: Part of their job is to help you be more fulfilled. And they should be having conversations to maybe help you discover those ways that you are feeling fulfilled at work and how to get there. Here's one aspect that we have not talked about that I'm curious to explore a little bit: recognition.
STEPHANIE: Ooh. Yeah, that's a good one.
JOËL: How important is it for you to feel recognized, either by your colleagues or by the more official org structure?
STEPHANIE: This is a great question. I do value recognition from people I trust. So I think we were talking about sometimes client projects are not successful, but you tried your best, and you did do valuable work. And you might not hear that from the client. They might think differently. But if a trusted co-worker can provide that validation for you, oftentimes, I find that more helpful.
JOËL: That's an interesting distinction. And I think recognition has a very different weight depending on the source it's coming from. If it's somebody you look up to, and they just give you a shout-out or something, I'm riding that high all day long.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, yeah, that's a great point. How do you like to receive recognition?
JOËL: Hmm. So at thoughtbot, we have an internal system where we can give shout-outs to each other. They're called high fives. And they get shared directly to the team Slack channel. And it's a small thing, but I really appreciate it when somebody calls out like, "Hey, I appreciated this thing that you did," or "This is the thing that had an impact on me," or "I appreciated the thing that you shared."
Those things make me feel really great. It's a small thing. It takes 30 seconds to do. But I really appreciate that. And it's something that I am looking to more intentionally do more of because it's fun to receive recognition, but it's also really valuable to give recognition.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, I'm with you. I am also trying to be intentional about being even more generous with my positive feedback for others. And I think there's also some degree of recognition and validation to give to yourself.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I'm definitely trying to do more of that. Because if I'm doing work that lines up with my values, I want to be able to pat myself on the back for it, even if no one else will do it for me. [laughs]
JOËL: What does that look like? You're like standing in the mirror and saying, "Good job?"
JOËL: Do you have maybe a document where you kind of list the things that you feel proud of, even if nobody else has noticed? What does that look like for you?
STEPHANIE: Ooh, yeah, a brag document. I think some folks at thoughtbot have recommended doing that. For me, it's going and getting myself a treat.
JOËL: Oh, I like that.
STEPHANIE: So maybe like a latte the next morning or going to get just a sweet thing. Yeah, that's my way of doing it.
JOËL: So we've talked about self-recognition, recognition from colleagues. I think another element is recognition from management or the company that you're working at. That can be just praise. But oftentimes, I think when you're looking at recognition from something a little more corporate, it has a more kind of concrete aspect to it. And maybe that is come yearly evaluation time; there's a raise that recognizes the fact that you've done good work.
I know for me, last year, I got a big promotion. And I felt like I had been performing at a level that was kind of pretty far above and beyond the title that I had. And getting that promotion, in some ways, was very much kind of validation and recognition of the fact that I had been performing at that high level.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, it sounds like the acknowledgment for the expanded work that you've been doing was really motivating for you.
JOËL: Yeah. It's interesting you mentioned that acknowledgment is really motivating because it really is, and sometimes the reverse is also true. You feel discouraged or unmotivated because the good work that you're doing is not recognized. Are you familiar with the idea of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation?
STEPHANIE: Yeah, I am. Being motivated by something externally, like someone offering a promotion, or a raise, or whatever, versus it coming from yourself.
JOËL: Yeah. And I think for many people, you're probably not purely motivated by one or the other. There are some things where you're motivated by your own internal values, as we mentioned earlier, and some things where you're motivated by incentives offered at work. And that balance will probably shift over time and in different moments. But having a little bit of both can be really, really powerful. If you can be living up to your values and then get rewarded for it, that's kind of peak fulfillment right there.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's the sweet spot. Yeah, I wish that for everyone in the world. [laughs] On that note, shall we wrap up?
JOËL: Let's wrap up. [laughs]
STEPHANIE: Show notes for this episode can be found at bikeshed.fm.
JOËL: This show has been produced and edited by Mandy Moore.
STEPHANIE: If you enjoyed listening, one really easy way to support the show is to leave us a quick rating or even a review in iTunes. It really helps other folks find the show.
JOËL: If you have any feedback for this or any of our other episodes, you can reach us @_bikeshed, or you can reach me @joelquen on Twitter.
STEPHANIE: Or reach both of us at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.
JOËL: Thanks so much for listening to The Bike Shed, and we'll see you next week.
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