We often want to see results all at once, or at least quickly. But that’s not usually how it works. In this episode Leon, Josh, and returning guest Al Rasheed explore how the philosophies of slow growth in other areas of our life – from religious to healthy living – inform our expectations with regard to gaining new skills in IT. Listen or read the transcript below.
Josh: 00:00 Welcome to our podcast where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT. We’re not here to preach or teach you our religion. We’re here to explore ways we make our career as IT professionals mesh or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is technically religious.
Leon: 00:22 We often want to see results all at once or at least quickly, but that’s not usually how IT works. How do the philosophies of slow growth in other areas of our life from religious to healthy living inform our expectations with regard to gaining new skills in it? I’m Leon Adato and the other voices you’re going to hear on this episode are my partner in podcasting, Josh Biggley.
Josh: 00:42 Hello, hello.
Leon: 00:44 And returning guests. Al Rasheed,
Leon: 00:46 Hello, thanks again for having me.
Leon: 00:48 Welcome back again. Um, okay. Before we dive into this topic, uh, as always, we wanted to have everyone, uh, take a moment for shameless self promotion. So Josh, why don’t you kick it off?
Josh: 00:59 Hey, so I’m Josh Biggley, I’m a senior engineer in the enterprise systems monitoring space. Uh, you can find me on Twitter at @jbiggley or if you want to follow the chaos of my, my faith journey, uh, you can go to FaithTransitions.ca where you’ll be forwarded to our Facebook group.
Leon: 01:16 Fantastic. Al, tell us about yourself.
Al: 01:20 I’m Al Rasheed, I’m a systems administrator here in northern Virginia for a federal contractor. Uh, you can find me on Twitter, @Al_Rasheed and in my profile for Twitter you’ll also, uh, you should find my blog URL.
Leon: 01:33 Fantastic. And as a reminder, uh, all those links and everything else we talk about in this episode are going to be in the show notes. So you don’t need to scribble madly and just rounding things up. I’m Leon Adatoo, I’m one of the head geeks at solar winds. You can find me on Twitter @LeonAdator and also I blog and just pontificate about life in general, uh, at AdatoSystems.com so you can find me there. All right, so, uh, we’re going to divide this up basically into two sections, talking about growth and personal growth in the religious philosophical context first. And then in our IT life second, but in religious context, I think it’s important for us to frame out what is there to grow in, in terms of religion or philosophy? I think, I think a lot of folks feel like, well, you know, you just, you show up, you sit down, you listen for a little while, and then ya go, you know, have some fried chicken or whatever. Like what, what is there to do better in religion? What are your, what are your thoughts on that?
Josh: 02:31 You know, Leon, I honestly, I think that, um, the whole premise of religion is about being better. Um, again for the listeners, right? We know that, uh, I was Mormon and Joseph Smith, who was the founder of Mormonism, uh, famously said, and I’m probably going to do a terrible job at paraphrasing him, but, um, no religion, um, that is, you know, worth its weight. Um, that doesn’t require a man to sacrifice and become better, uh, should be practiced. So the idea being that if you’re going to do religion and you’re just going to stay static, why do it that at all?
Al: 03:08 Right. And I, I think there’s some people who do show up, you know, look, I belong because my parents belong to this church or synagogue because my grandparents belonged here. I’m just, you know, I, that’s, that’s why I’m here. You know, I just show up because that’s what we’ve always done. But to your point, I think it’s, it’s not, I’m afraid to say it’s not the right reason, but I think it’s not a very productive reason to be there. Um, I think also, depending on your religious, philosophical point of view, and this is definitely philosophical, I think that people who say, I’m not religious, I’m spiritual. There’s still an element of this. There’s some mechanics involved. Uh, I know for myself, and I talked about it in a previous episode, uh, I still struggle learning Hebrew, just making the sounds. Uh, it wasn’t a language that I was comfortable with growing up. Uh, I was comfort with a couple of other religions, a couple of other languages, but not, um, Hebrew. And so I really just, the decoding of the non-English characters has really been a stumbling block for me. So, and I know that, you know, other religions have Latin Al uh, we were talking about it earlier, that, uh, in Islam, you know, Arabic, that’s, you know, I don’t know whether if you don’t speak Arabic, I don’t even know how, how do you manage? Like, can you, can you do the prayers in English? Is that all right?
Al: 04:26 Yes, you can. And there are, there are some countries that are, you know, Indonesia for example, their primary language isn’t Arabic. Uh, but they’ve got a, a heavy base of Muslims and you know, there, there are means to every way.
Al: 04:40 Okay, okay. I wasn’t sure if it was, you know, Arabic or, you know, go home and practice until you can come back, you know, whatever. So at least it gets good to know. But it’s still, I think there’s also, you know, if you want to study Torah or Quran or whatever, ultimately, or, uh, The hunchback of Notre Dame or the Upanishads or whatever, like studying it in the original language is, is the goal because things are always lost in translation. So you still have that linguistic skill element to it. Um, regardless, um, there’s other, there’s other things though that I think we, we try to improve on just in terms of showing up and being religious. Any other ones that you, you guys want to shout out on?
Josh: 05:27 And so, uh, one of the things that that Mormons do, um, we go to are the temples. Um, and so in the temple, um, just like every other temple, uh, attending faith, there are rights and rituals that are performed and uh, you know, they’re, they, they have a very specific methodology for them. Um, I mean, when I attended regularly, um, when I was living in Las Vegas, I would go every single week and it was goal to learn, uh, verbatim, the, you know, the required, um, statements that you make, um, as part of that ritual. And it’s interesting, you know, you think, well, why would you do that? Because if you make a mistake, there’s somebody there to help you. I mean, if they’re not going to say, “Oh, geez, Josh, way to go, you screwed up, get out.”
Leon: 06:18 You’ve ruined Mormonism for us!
Josh: 06:21 Right, that will come later,
Leon: 06:23 …later in this story.
Josh: 06:26 Um, but it’s, it was one of those things that it made me feel, um, it made me feel as though I had to accomplish something as though I had, um, I had been devout enough to, to memorize this thing that, you know, you hear it once as part of this worship service that lasts about two hours. Uh, our, sorry, I guess we heard two or three times, but it, you know, it’s a fairly long phrase that you have to say and it’s not like you can go home and practice it because in Mormonism that thing is not, it’s not written down anywhere. Um, that you can read outside. The only place you can study it or hear it is, is in the temple. Um, so to get to a point where, and even now, you know, 20 odd years later, I still can remember it. Um, it, it just, it was one of those things that helps you focus or at least was intended to help you focus on the divine. Um, so, you know, what can you do better at in religion? You can find the things that help you focus on the divine, whether it’s, you know, the recitation of a specific prayer or, um, some sort of right or ritual. Um, or even just for some people just showing up at church. I mean, that’s a good thing if you want to be religious.
Leon: 07:39 Right, and, and in, again, in talking about the things that people take step by step, that, that’s a good point is I hear a lot of people from various faith, uh, again, philosophical areas saying, “I just need to learn how to focus better”, whether it’s meditative, um, or focusing on the prayers, what’s happening, not getting distracted and having a side conversation. Um, you know, being able to keep your, your focus focal point of attention longer. That is definitely something that a) people work on, b) people get very frustrated about because they can’t do as well as they want to. Um, and c), to your point also deepens their experience, uh, you know, in what they’re doing. So that’s, that’s a nice one. Um, I, I also think that there’s just learning, and this is slightly to your point, Josh, what happens when?, You know, is this the standup part or the sit down part or the walk around the room part or the, you know, just knowing this is where we are, because not knowing, again, not knowing, doesn’t ruin Shabbat right now.
Josh: 08:47 For a minute there, I thought we were doing the Hokey pokey,
Leon: 08:49 Right. Although sometimes it feels like it. Like at no time do you know, did anyone ever turn to me and say, okay, Leon, you, you just broke Shabbat. We’ll try again next week. That doesn’t, that doesn’t happen. But knowing what’s going on and feeling, uh, feeling fluent in it and competent in it allows you not to have to worry about it. It allows you to focus on some of those deeper issues
Al: 09:13 Or a sense of being a part of something, a meeting and accomplishment. Um, but there is a certain sometimes level of intimidation if you don’t feel like you’re meeting those expectations, especially when it does come through religion.
Leon: 09:27 Right. And, and I, I wanna say that in most cases, our co-religionists are not putting pressure on us. They’re not judging. They’re not holding these in insanely high expectations. Sometimes they are, sometimes, you know, they’re that person. Uh, and that’s its own set of challenges. But most of the time I think it’s really what we think, they think that…that gets us. So, yeah, it’s a good point though.
Josh: 09:57 So I have this really bad habit of, uh, thinking about things that I did in my life and I remember them with crystal clarity and they don’t matter to anybody else. For example, I remember the time that a group of, uh, of, uh, classmates and I were walking into the front of my high school and there was a flat cigarette package kind of laying on the ground and I went to go kick it with full force, you know, thinking I was just going to scoot it along the ground and I completely missed and the force carried me up into the air and I slapped down right on my back.
Leon: 10:35 Charlie Brown!
Josh: 10:35 It was classic!
Leon: 10:38 Classic Charlie. Arrgh!
Josh: 10:40 And I remembered that with crystal clarity. I don’t think anyone else who was around, I mean, they all laughed at me, but nobody else remembers that. And that’s, that’s like religious observance. If you screw it up, nobody’s going to remember and good, good chance that, uh, you know God or however you name your, your Diety, they’re not going to remember either.
Leon: 11:05 Well, okay, so I’m just going to walk that one back a little bit. God will remember everything, but God will not judge one context.
Josh: 11:13 Right. You know, God does say I remember your sins no more. So I don’t know.
Leon: 11:19 There’s, okay, there’s a difference between holding you accountable and remembering them. Uh, but I think that, you know, in the same way that we as parents look at our children when they do something really silly and we remember it, but we don’t, we don’t look at it. They’re like, “Oh yeah, you’re the idiot who did that thing.” You know, it, it just becomes part of the, their overall character.
Josh: 11:41 I think we remember them and we hold onto them for when they get married. And then at the celebration afterwards, we tell the stories. That’s why we remember them.
Leon: 11:52 And we have pictures.
Josh: 11:53 Yeah. I don’t know. Does that make me a bad parent?
Leon: 11:55 No, no, because Al shaking his head “No!”
Al: 11:59 No, that’s what life is all about. So you can look back and reflect and laughing and joy collectively.
Leon: 12:06 Right, right. Exactly. Okay. So, uh, what else in a philosophical context, what, what else about it is, is, is growth related or again, this slow growth step-by-step?
Josh: 12:17 I mean, what, what do we want out of life? When I was a, a Mormon missionary, um, I remember as I was preparing to go, my father saying that there were three golden questions, right? It was a, where do we come from? Why are we here and where are we going? Uh, and that like that, “Why are we here?” that, man, that’s a heavy question. Like, really what do we want from life?
Al: 12:42 But, but that question and that thought is ever evolving. Um, it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, there’s times where, and some of the points that I’ll focus on, I want peace. I want a, you know, clear conscience. I avoid negativity. I don’t want to be remembered as, um, someone that got in a way or someone that wasn’t helpful. I want when I’m done for the day, for example, in the office, I know when I leave, I’ve done to the best of my ability and the time. That was a lot of to me. Um, additionally, um, if you’ve got a sound mind, you have a sound body and those two go hand in hand. Uh, especially in IT, we all realize IT is, we’re very blessed. It’s a, it’s a great, uh, way of making a living, but it can be challenging on both sides, uh, mentally and physically and, and additionally, um, you always want to be happy, but you want to be happy, not only in the office, but you want to bring that happiness home because if the home isn’t happy, then you’ve missed the whole point. And um, you bring that negativity. There’s a potentially bring that negativity, negativity home, or if you take it to the office and the whole mood just goes tumbling down. And lastly, you want to, everyone wants to be successful, but it has to be done in the correct way. You have to be a thorough through your hard work, but be honest, doing so. Um, but also in always focused on trying to bring people up as opposed to bringing them down.
Leon: 14:09 Right? And those are all really good framing ways of framing what we’re doing and what we’re growing toward. But I also think those are good examples of, of areas of our life that when we, when we fall short or haven’t yet achieved a particular level that we have in our mind, that creates an enormous amount of frustration for us. You know, just taking health as an example. You know, when, uh, you know, if, if we are exercise, uh, prone, if we, if we like to exercise and uh, we’ve pulled a muscle or whatever and we need to give something arrest. I, I, I grew up in a household where lots of people in my family played lots of different sports and there were injuries and I just know there was an enormous amount of frustration waiting for those injuries to heal. And not wanting to wait and wanting to get right back to it. And I’m losing so much ground and you know, or as we get older, perhaps, you know, I can’t do what I used to do. And all those things weigh on you. And again, to the, to the point of this, uh, this episode, this podcast, is that we have to find ways of pacing ourselves, finding the right pace for the right moment. Because otherwise, you know, like, you know, health, it’s not what I want it to be. Okay, fair. But at the same time, it is what it is, what it is. That doesn’t mean you settle for it, but today your health today is your health today and you have to come to terms with that so that you can get to your health tomorrow, which hopefully will be better, which hopefully will grow. Um, but denying or, or railing at it, I don’t think is gonna help you get anywhere.
Josh: 16:02 Yeah. Yeah. I would really want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean a old Arnold, new Arnold, whatever, like.
Leon: 16:08 I was going to ask, ‘Which one?”, like seventies Arnold.
Josh: 16:10 Yes.
Al: 16:10 Or the latest terminator movie, Arnold?
Josh: 16:13 Yes, I mean all of them are improvements on the current, uh, Josh Dad Bod. But it’s just not worth pursuing for me. I do not want that level, but I am in awe of people who are willing to put the time and effort in. And, uh, you know, the previous episode we talked about how Crossfit is a cult. And I still do believe that however, I am completely amazed at people who do Crossfit the, the feats of strength and endurance, that those, those dedicated individuals pull off their mind boggling. I, I’m absolutely, I, I honestly, it’s overwhelming for me to watch them perform.
Leon: 16:57 Okay. So, so I just want to clarify though, just because we understand realistically that, that we, you and I, at least I’m leaving out loud at this one. You and I at least will never get to the Arnold Schwartzenegger, uh, you know, pinnacle of health, the, the 80 year old Arnold, um, pinnacle of health. Does that mean we don’t start, does that mean like, oh well I can’t, I will never be natively fluent in Spanish, so why bother?
Josh: 17:23 Yes.
Leon: 17:25 Really?
Josh: 17:25 No, I mean someone had to say yes. There’s always gotta be the opposite.
Leon: 17:29 Oh, ABC — Always Be Contrarian.
Josh: 17:32 Yes.
Leon: 17:33 Okay.
Al: 17:33 If I could share one example, it’s not about me, but, um, you know, I’ve put on some weight in the past few years. A lot of it is attributed to my lifestyle. Um, I will blame, I, it’s my responsibility. I accept ownership for it. But about five, six ago, I was actively jogging. I didn’t care how fast I was doing it. I was doing it for the sake of getting out there. Uh, and it was, it was, there were two factors that were involved, obviously physically, but mentally it cleared my mind every time I went out.
Josh: 18:05 Yeah. Sorry, I’m reading a great book. Uh, and I mean, shout out to my coworker and friend Zach Mutchler for recommending this book, but, uh, and I’m going to talk about it a little later in the podcast as well, but then this book entitled Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. He talks about that the runner’s high, that, that thing that you get when you run in. I honestly, I have never, no, I shouldn’t say never. When I was younger, I was a cross country runner. Um, and that runner’s high is real and it is very much a, it is a chemical reaction. Uh, and it puts your body in your mind, um, in, in, in harmony with one another. And as I’m talking, I’m thinking, “Josh, you are such a hypocrite because you don’t run and you don’t want to run.” But, uh, there are, there are other things that I think can establish that same, a harmonious balance and maybe without, you know, the impact to my knees and my back and my feet and all those things.
Leon: 19:11 And that goes, and that goes back to what I was saying about, you know, health or whatever, you know, “Ugh, I can’t run anymore because my back” my like, okay, but look, what can you do? How can you get that? Um, and just, you know, for the record, I’d never had a runner’s high. I’m also, I just, I don’t know why I put him in the same category. I’ve never had meat sweats. So those are two goals that I think that I still want to try to figure out. If I could find my way to, um,
Josh: 19:33 The latter is not going to happen with the former. I made the..
Josh: 19:36 No, no, no, no, no. They, they cancel each other out. Correct. And also meat sweats is a very expensive proposition. We’ve talked talking about kosher meat. Okay. So, um, it doesn’t mean just because we may not be able to attain the a particular goal, whether that’s a runner’s high or whatever, or, you know, I can’t run because of my knees. It doesn’t mean you don’t start or start something. It just means that you’re realistic with yourself. You’re gentle with yourself about it.
Al: 19:59 Right. And if I could add to it, sometimes the juice is not necessarily worth the squeeze. So you’ve gotta have a considered approach. You have to consider everything that’s involved and be thorough and analytical while considering these choices. And you know, as we, as we get older, um, patience is critical. So we have to practice it because, you know, I forget with the, it was Joshua or Leon that just mentioned this is a potential for, you know, a higher risk for injury. As we get older. We’re, we’re not that spring chicken. Like, you know, like we’d like to hope we are and um, you know, you just have to be smart and wise with your decision making.
Josh: 20:36 I think as my previous story demonstrated, uh, even when I was younger, I was at a higher risk for injury. Um, so people like me probably just should not do sports. I mean I tried out for the football team and got hurt in the first practice. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thanks Leon.
Leon: 20:54 Not a problem. I can just look, I mean, you know, we’re only so tall and we were only so, like, there’s just, there’s a reality there. Right?
Josh: 21:02 It’s true. It’s true. It’s so, you know, as I think about how would I go from a, you know, my glorious Dad Bod to Arnold Schwarzenegger, I think that the article that really got us kickstarted, um, talks specifically about how to do that. And it’s this idea of these micro shifts. Um, and that if I’m going to, if I’m going to decide that I want to achieve a goal, like, uh, speaking Spanish, am I going to become fluent in Spanish tomorrow? Uh, unless I can pull a matrix and get jacked in and it downloaded. It’s not going to happen. Although if that exists out there, um, my, my contact details are in the show notes. I want it.
Al: 21:47 [Laughter]
Josh: 21:47 Um, it’s the micro,
Leon: 21:48 I know Kung Fu.
Josh: 21:49 I know. I mean, I don’t actually put that past you, Leon. You also know how to do sword fighting, so…
Leon: 21:57 Well that’s true.
Josh: 21:59 But I think it’s still those micro shifts, right? Do what do we change today so that tomorrow we’re better? And whether we’re talking about an intellectual pursuit or a religious pursuit like that, that’s where we go. I can’t be the same today and tomorrow as I was yesterday because then I haven’t improved. But if I improve in those, those very, uh, nominal ways, the collection of those, I mean, I think this is called life. The collection of those experiences gets me to my destination.
Leon: 22:28 And that’s, I think that’s a key is, is both recognizing and appreciating the value that those small micro shifts, um, can make. Uh, just reminds me when we were, uh, we were in Jerusalem and my family and I, and my son was, uh, about eight or nine when we went. And one of the the one of the features about Jerusalem when you’re going down to the Kotel to the wall is there are a lot of people asking for charity. They just, you know, sort of sit in chairs on the steps down and stuff like that. And, and, um, my son had a pocket full of, and he was very excited. He had a pocket full of Israeli coins, some shackles, and he was really happy to use them and whatever. And this woman asked for, uh, you know, this woman had her handout. And so he was really excited to be able to give charity like that. So he handed her and she looked at him and I, I apologize because it does not cast her in a very good light. She looked at me, she says “This, this is nothing.” And we were all taken aback by like, it’d be one thing if a grown adult handed her a penny, you know, like what do you think you’re doing? But this was a little boy who, you know, probably didn’t understand what the value of the coinage, you know, together …And, but I, my son was so brilliant, he, he looked at her and says, “But they add up!” And we just, we walked on. But that’s always stuck with me is, you know, how many times are we the person with her handout saying “This is nothing.” And how often do we need to be told, like my son said, “But it adds up.”
Al: 24:08 But his intentions were well.
Leon: 24:10 Right, right. No, no, his intentions were pure. And I think that that’s the other thing, when I want to learn Spanish, when I want to go for a run and I make it, you know, three houses down and then I can’t keep going or whatever. It’s not, oh that was nothing. You shouldn’t, why bother even getting up, putting your shoes up. No, it adds up. Okay, so you made it three houses tomorrow. Make four houses a week from now, make four houses, who cares? You went for a walk. You know, I think that we have to be gentle with ourselves in that way. Um, you know, we, we talk about our religious philosophy and I think we’re all aware that all our religions teach, uh, teach kindness, you know, be kind to others. But we forget that that also includes ourselves. That we need to be kind to ourselves and we would, we, who would never be that brazenly mean to another person about their progress. If someone said, hey, can you tutor me in this thing? We would never get in their face about how poorly they’re doing or how slowly you have long it’s taking or how slow they’re going. We would never do that. But at the same time, our own internal mental self-talk can be really, at least for myself, I’ll speak for myself. My, my internal self-talk is brutal sometimes. It’s really, really painful.
Josh: 25:24 One of the most devastating experiences I’ve had in my life and in my entire life was coming to that moment. And we, we talked about it on the last podcast where I knew that I could no longer be Mormon. It wasn’t that I thought, “Oh, well this Mormon thing is hard. It was holy crap, I can’t do it.” Followed shortly thereafter by “Why didn’t I know this sooner?” And, uh, my, uh, Maya Angelou, who is a preeminent, uh, African American poet, said something that it touches my soul every time I read it. And she has been misquoted by so many people, so this is the actual quote “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” And to me, that really is the key, right? That is the thing that unlocks the ability to continue to grow in life. Uh, without it. If we were to hold ourselves accountable, um, for the things that we didn’t do or that we did when we didn’t know that we should or should not do them, we would be, we would be gripped by that guilt of a failure. Um, or that, that guilt of acting. Um, I mean, yeah, if you didn’t know you, you couldn’t be held accountable. And that, that’s the key for me. Uh, and I, that goes to everything, right? It’s not just my religious pursuits, but I mean, I make mistakes at work all the time. Uh, and that’s usually just, you know, I in the first hour of my day and the, the key is, did not, “Did Josh make a mistake?” It’s, “Did Josh make the exact same mistake that he made yesterday and that we taught him how to not make again, did he do it over and over again?” And that to me is, that’s how we measure progress, right? I mean, we’re not ever going to find the perfect person, the perfect IT pro, they do not exist. There are no rockstar candidates out there.
Leon: 27:37 Um, so I wanna I wanna point out that in a previous episode Yechiel Kalmenson, uh, mentioned that programming is basically the state of going from, going from a state of brokenness, complete brokenness to a state of functionality. Not the other way around. That when you start out with a clear screen, basically what you’re saying is the entire program doesn’t work. And as you begin to add lines of code, you’re adding things that do work. So, you know, I, I think sometimes we think it’s, it’s working and then I broke it. You know, Josh, to your point, I made mistakes. No, no, no. You showed up in the day, you know, beginning of the day and everything needed your help. And so you just started working your way through those things. It’s again, a way of us being gentle with ourselves. So one more thing I want to just throw out there before we transition to the IT version of this conversation is that a, so my oldest son is on his way to YUeshiva. He graduated high school and he’s on his way. And part of his post high school curriculum includes, uh, an entire section of what’s called Mussar and Mussar is self-improvement. Um, so just imagine going to college and having an entire section of your class of your curriculum dedicated to being better, being a better you. And some of the hallmarks of this, uh, program of this movement is that first of all, you’re gonna work with a coach. You’re going to work with a Rabbi and you’re going to talk about who you are and where you are now and who you want to be. And the, the key pieces that the, the Rabbi that you’re working with is typically gonna tell you to do something insanely small. Like really, we would almost look at it as being in consequential, you know, put your right shoe on before you put your left shoe on. Like what? No, just do it. Just, that’s the improvement. That’s what you’re gonna work on. Like are you, I just told you that I have trouble like with gossiping. Yeah, I know. I know. Put your rights, you on your left, you want. And some of it is just terraforming your brain to accept doing things differently. But some of it is back to the point that was made earlier. You know, making small changes in some cases are the only kinds of changes you can make. But making sequential small changes, again, it all adds up. So I find that wonderfully inspiring that there’s an entire movement that looks at things this way.
Josh: 30:14 I like that thought process. I like, um, I think in the times with other respect that we live in now, I think a lot of more people should focus on that aspect.
Josh: 30:22 Yeah. And once we picked that idea of doing, um, that opens up new pathways, I everyone remembers that scene from, uh, Indiana Jones, um, where he, he’s going for the, the Holy Grail. Right. And he comes to that, that chasm between, you know, the two doorways and he can’t see the path. Right. And then he’s got to take that step out. I mean, okay. It’s kinda kitschy. I get it. Um, but that really is our life. Sometimes we have to step, no, let me rephrase that. Every time we have to step out so that we can gain the perspective of the road that we’ve walked on. And sometimes, I mean, especially if it’s Monday morning and you’re, you’re, you’re me, you’re going to come to a point, uh, and you’re going to step out and you’re going to realize that’s not the road that you are should be walking and you get back up and you go back to bed. No, I mean that doesn’t happen too often, but you, you have to realize sometimes you have to step down the wrong road to know that that’s the wrong road and it does mean having to backtrack a little and then you walk a different path and that’s also okay. You are not going to make the right choice. But if your every day making those small incremental changes, then you don’t have to unwind, um, a lifetime of change to go down the path that is actually the right path for you.
Al: 31:50 Baby steps.
Josh: 31:50 Baby steps.
Leon: 31:52 Are the only steps. Honestly, that’s not the only ones you can take. Okay. Let’s, let’s take all of this into the IT context. Um, you know, again, the idea of step-by-step and incremental growth and learning what, you know, what experiences do we have in it that reflect this outlook? What experiences do we have that either standing contradiction to it or work against it or support this idea?
Josh: 32:17 I just have to point out that every time you say step-by-step, uh, Martika’s Toy Soldiers runs through my head every single time. I just, I, I can’t undo it.
Al: 32:28 That’s your, that’s your ear worm for this podcast.
Josh: 32:31 I was thinking Backstreet Boys or what was the other boy group that had that Song Step-by-step,
Josh: 32:36 uh, Boyz2Men, no, not Boyz2Men,…
Al: 32:37 N’Sync!
Leon: 32:40 There we go. All right, so we are now fully dated in our eighties. Worry. Very good gentlemen. Very good. Okay. Okay.
Josh: 32:48 Can we, can we revisit that idea? The idea that there is no Rockstar job candidate and what can we s let’s stop assuming that you can take, you can fire somebody and then go find the perfect and, and I’m air quoting my brains out right now for all of our listeners, that you can find that perfect candidate. There is no rock star. The rock star is the person that is sitting there who has contacts in your company, who knows you, who knows your goals, who knows your ideas, ideals, train them, give them the support, and they will be calmed that rock star. But nobody, nobody walks in off the street and goes, yeah, I can totally kill this.
Leon: 33:34 So I just want to point out that just an episode or two ago, a Doug Johnson, another voice on the podcast who used to be a DJ. He was actually the number one rated, uh, news time DJ in Cleveland for a while, for a few years there. Um, he said, I, “I’ve met rock stars. You don’t want to be them.” Like they’re not, they’re not people that you should aspire to. Certainly not people that you want to hire. They’re not reliable in that way. They’re, you know, they, they play by completely different rules. They’re fun to watch, but they’re not somebody I would want on my team necessarily when we’re talking, when we’re thinking about rockstar personalities, that’s not exactly what we’re talking about. So, yeah, I want that whole phrase, that whole term just to go away.
Al: 34:23 Yeah, I know. And it button, it’s taught in other professions as well. Inevitably we’re always surrounded by that hero, that person that wants to put themselves out in front of everybody else. But sooner or later that hero comes tumbling down in their true colors and their intentions come crashing down on them.
Leon: 34:41 Right.
Josh: 34:42 Um, it’s, it can be a challenge professionally, especially if you’re in a team centric environment because you find yourself, and I can only speak for myself, but again, we’ve probably all been in this situation. It’s hard because you want to bite your tongue, but on the other hand you want to say something and point out this person. Yeah. And so it’s, it’s a balance and you have to take those considerations and in fact, what’s most important for you but also your team members moving forward.
Josh: 35:10 I mean, once again, Martika comes to the rescue, right? Step by step, heart to heart, left, right, left. We all fall down like toy soldiers.
Al: 35:18 This guy’s on fire.
Leon: 35:19 Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Um, very good. Yeah, I think that, uh, um, uh, again, the, the concept of rock star is, is not a healthy one. It’s not healthy to try to conceive of yourself as one of those kinds of personalities. And um, certainly often not healthy to be around. And I want to differentiate between a quote/unquote a rock star and somebody who, uh, the term I used as a force multiplier, you know, somebody who is so effective in what they do, that they make the people around them better as well. They lift everyone up. Um, not through necessarily technical prowess. It can be through enthusiasm, it can be through a positive outlook. It can be through just being really, really good at documentation or being really organized about things. I mean that that can be its own force multiplier, but a Rockstar is, that’s not, that’s not what’s meant when employers say, I’m looking for a rockstar candidate. And that’s not the same thing as a force multiplier. Somebody who actually makes you better “for being in the team with them.
Al: 36:29 Right.
Josh: 36:31 Um, okay. So other things about it and this idea of slow, steady growth. What else? What else? What other thoughts do you have?
Al: 36:38 I mean, for me personally, I think you need to think things through. Take your time, put in the effort and collaborate and communicate with one another. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, but on the other side, sometimes you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. So, um, never take things for granted. Um, be kind, uh, be willing to assist one another and don’t do it just to say that you did it, but do it with good intentions in mind.
Leon: 37:06 Right. And, and to your point about, you know, the hero personality eventually comes out, so does yours. Yup. So even though you’re biting your tongue, even though you’re holding back, even though you want to say something and whatever, you don’t need to because your intentions will come out, will be, you know, will be seen by the people who need to see it. And I realized that that is, uh, a faith statement. And I realized that it is not 100% true in every workplace environment. There are toxic environments. I’m not, you know, I’m not naively suggesting there aren’t a, but I will say that in, in a healthy work environment, you don’t have to work that hard for people to notice what you’re doing. And if you’re not in a healthy work environment, okay, now we know what needs to get worked on.
Al: 37:51 Right. But you can be efficient at what you do and do it at a high level without going over the top and bringing attention to yourself.
Al: 37:59 Correct. Correct.
Josh: 38:00 I just want to point out that the 80s comes to the rescue again. I’m like, Cinderella’s “Don’t know what you got till it’s gone”. “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Don’t know why what it is. I did so wrong. Now I know what I got. It’s just this song and it ain’t easy to get back. Takes so long.”
Al: 38:21 And that’s actually where I got it from that line because when you guys started with the rolling stone, it’s on, uh, the, the, that’s, I immediately thought of that Cinderella Song for whatever reason.
Leon: 38:33 There we go. Okay. This, this episode is, it’s got people gotta have ear worms coming out of their ears. That’s great.
Josh: 38:39 It was brought to you by the 80s,
Josh: 38:41 Right? Right, the 80s and, and, and Top 40… Top 40 radio. So, uh, I think there are some things that in it we have to assimilate quickly. We have to, you know, get this knowledge or get this skill down really fast. But I don’t think that is certainly not always and not necessarily even often the time. I think that the lifelong learning that is implied by a career in IT. And I do truly believe that. I think that if you want a career in it, you are committing to being a lifelong learner. And I think that means in many cases, taking a long view of how you’re going to learn something. And you know, one thing that comes to mind immediately is programming. Um, you may learn a couple of programming verbs. You may learn a couple of, you know, you may be able to go on and stack, Stack Exchange and get some snippets of code that you can slam in there. But in terms of really learning how to program that is going to be, you know, it’s going to take you a while. Um, and Josh, I think, I think you can attest to that.
Josh: 39:43 Oh yeah. Every single day mean Google is the way that I survive what I have to script it, the, that and uh, and Zack, that’s how I survive.
Leon: 39:55 Okay. But, but at the same time, I’ve listened to you over the course of months talking about your, your coding, scripting skills and they are improving. You know, you’re not, you know, you might not be a Zack or you know, Doug or whatever, you know, that level. But those are people who have been programming for a while. And that’s the thing to remember is that you are on the, you’re near the start of your journey and they’re not, um,
Josh: 40:18 Don’t make me quote Martika again!
Al: 40:23 [Snicker] Sorry.
Leon: 40:25 [Laughing] Alright, go ahead. Go.
Josh: 40:27 No, no, I’m not going to call I, I mean don’t literally don’t make me quote Martika again. That’s just step by step thing. We, We can’t go there again. No, you’re, you’re rightly on a I am. I am far better today than I was five years ago. I, I, I remember the moment that, uh, my manager, uh, five years ago was actually our manager. He said to me, “Josh, uh, this team needs this monitor built in SolarWinds, this, this SAM Component Monitor. And the best way to get it done we think is in PowerShell. Um, we’d like you to do it. And I’m like, PowerShell. Google, what is powershell?
Leon: 41:08 [Laughing] Yeah, right!?! Bad sign, bad sign!
Josh: 41:08 And it took me a week to write this one line cause I was like, oh crap. Like I don’t even, I don’t, I don’t know what the PowerShell is. I don’t know if it’s installed like nothing. And I’m much more comfortable now. So yes, you are right. I have improved and I think we need to remember that. Um, on the flip side, I’m going to say that one of the things that always has always come really naturally to me is being able to tie the technical side of what I do to the business. So, I mean, one of those lifelong skills is just because you are a technical person does not mean you don’t have to know about the business. You hav…, I mean, invest the time. Okay, look, I get it. People are not always going to glom onto, uh, doing spreadsheets and financial analysis of technical solutions like me. Those things really get me excited. Like, that is what I live for.
Leon: 42:06 I love you so much for saying that. And, yeah, I think that all it people need to at least have a little bit of fluency, like, you know, and speak a little Spanish, speak a little business.
Josh: 42:17 Speak a little ‘C-suite’
Leon: 42:17 Um, it doesn’t mean you have to become a pointy haired boss. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to become, you know, evil incarnate. Um, but it does mean the ability to translate technical information into a business relevant context is enormously important. Ah, Bob Lewis, who used to write one of the, uh, Op Ed pieces in InfoWorld back in the day when InfoWorld was, uh, printed on actual paper and delivered using actual post, uh, you know, uh, post office people. Um, he said “There are no IT projects. There are no technical projects, there are business projects with a technical component to them.” And if you don’t understand that you are always going to be working across purposes to the people who actually pay for things. And they’re going to continue to say no because they don’t understand. You haven’t helped them to understand the value of what you’re asking them to do. And not saying it’s not important. I’m saying you haven’t explained it.
Josh: 43:17 I’m cheering right now, me and at least two other people.
Leon: 43:21 But the thing is is that that isn’t a skill that you need to assimilate all at once. It’s something that you can practice a little bit at a time and grow in somebody who’s at the start of their IT career probably isn’t going to have enough context or experience. That doesn’t mean they can’t try, but somebody in the middle or later on in their career is going to have seen a lot more business situations, met a lot more business leaders and really will need that fluency to go along with the cachet of their credibility and their experience, so they can justify the projects and the tools that they’re probably talking about at that mid or even late point in their career. So what else, what other things in an it should we be gentle with ourselves in terms of not beating ourselves up because we don’t know it right away, but that doesn’t mean we stop working on it. That we continue to work on it.
Josh: 44:12 You have to know how to tell good stories. Honestly, if you cannot tell a good story, and I don’t care if you’re in the C-suite and talking about a business case or if you are, I’m over with the, you know, the lead architects and talking a technical case. You have to tell a story. And to that end, I have a story to tell. I spent the past seven months, uh, as part of a leadership development, uh, program at, at my company and they had pulled together 20 people from, uh, you know, the ranks of 16 or 1700 other IT, uh, folks and then a whole bunch of customer service folks. And they brought us all together and they said, okay, look, you 20, you have been nominated because you are the high potential high performing employees. Over the course of the seven months we did this project and we, we pitched out on the second last day of this program to our peers and we, you know, we had spent a lot of time putting together this, uh, this pitch, this, uh, this presentation and it. Fell. Flat. Oh my goodness. And I thought like, work, we’re good. Like they were good engineers, we’re good customer service people. Like we know how to present. And we sucked. So that night we all got together, you know, late after our long day of training. And we rewrote our presentation and we focused on the narrative of the story instead of just trying to dump data into people’s heads, we brought them along on the journey and people, oh, like we nailed it. Uh, so I think that that idea of, yes, I need to convey to you all the important details needs to be interwoven so beautifully with, let me tell you why these details are, let me help you understand why these details are important to you. So, yeah, learn how to tell good stories,
Al: 46:09 right? I, I, I often find myself and we’ve got an intern, an intern that’s currently working with us. Um, his first, uh, experience in IT. I always use expression with when I’m describing something with him, I’m painting a picture. I want you to see it for yourself. I want you to comprehend it. I want you to understand that. But let me know if there’s something you’re unsure of because if I’m not explaining it properly, I’m not doing my job and then I’m failing you.
Leon: 46:35 Right? And, and also say your work with Tech Field Day. I mean, that’s what tech field day is all about, right? A bunch of it thought leaders and experts in a room all telling stories to their audience about what they’re seeing. Um, you know, it painting that picture, allowing the reader to live vicariously through your experience, to see IT through your eyes. That’s, you know, that’s what makes you so valuable in that tech field day context. Um, and, and y, you know, you’re invited to be part of that group. So that’s, that’s it. That’s the skill.
Josh: 47:07 I think that Al has demonstrated that. The other thing that I, I think takes a career, a lifetime to build and that is to be a leader and not a manager. You talked about establishing that vision for this, this new, uh, individual who was in IT letting them see for themselves. That is what good do. Again, I talked about this book, leaders eat last, why some teams pull together and others don’t. By Simon Sinek. It was recommended to me about a week and a half ago by a coworker and friend, Zack Mutchler. I have been devouring this book ever since Zack made this recommendation. To me it might be the to the detriment of my career because it sends, set some pretty lofty goals for what leaders should be. But, oh, that idea of, uh, rallying people around the, uh, the thought, the idea of the vision is such a powerful narrative. And there certainly, we should talk more about that book. I’m going to put that out for an idea cause there are some great, um, some really great parallels between that book and, uh, our, our religious beliefs. A future episode to come.
Leon: 48:19 You heard it here first.
Al: 48:20 Yeah. Right.
Leon: 48:21 All right. Anything else in the IT context? Anything else that, uh, you know, slow growth step-by-step applies.
Josh: 48:28 So the, the article that they kicked us off, um, had a quote in it and it was right at the end of the, the article and it said, “Stop just wanting to get things done and start, becom…, Start wanting to become the person who gets things done.” And that, that goes to that really incremental changes you can achieve. And I think Al, you talked earlier about achieving a certification, you can achieve that. You can, I can learn how to quote “program in Python” or I can learn how to quote, “speak Spanish”. You know, “Yo quiero Taco Bell” is Spanish, but I am, I don’t actually know how to speak Spanish. Um, so be the person who, who brings about change by, uh, by your actions, those small and simple things. And that will really, that that’s, that’s where we get enlivened and then we become better people. We become better coworkers, better friends, uh, better spouses, uh, you know, better brothers and sisters and I mean the world world’s better place. And then the eighties kicks in.
Josh: 49:36 I definitely draw motivation from people that come back to me, uh, and it could be five, six, seven years, however long from now, but they’ll come back to me and say, “You know what, that moment that you explained something to me and it wasn’t done in a technical way, made the difference for me in my career.” You shine light where maybe others didn’t or they weren’t aware of how to do it. And it just like a, and then you said it earlier, Josh, and as well as you Leon, it’s just painting a story, telling a story, being relatable, not talking down to a person but talking to them.
Leon: 50:10 Right. Sharing with a person. Yeah. Um, yeah. So Josh, to your point that, that last quote about, uh, just stopping, I’m going to get things done. Um, a friend of mine, uh, who would tutor kids in at both ends of the intellectual spectrum. So she tutored, uh, special needs but also tutored, um, kids who would be classified as geniuses. And she was working with one sixth grader who was, you know, quote unquote a math genius. And the kid himself said, well, you know, I could just skip a couple of grades and you know, get to ninth grade and start, you know, and just work there. And my friend said, why, why do you want to do that? You know, if, if you want to do that because you see the, all the really cool math is in ninth grade and you want to get there sooner. I’m right there with you all help. But if you want to, if you want to just get this done so that you can, you know, play video games, it’s not worth it. You might as well stay in sixth grade math and just skate through it because you’re not doing it for any particular point. Do you want to get math done so that you can focus more on, you know, physics or English or something else you want, you want this off your plate, you have more time for something else, fine. But if you’re doing it just to get it done, I just want it done. I want it out of my way. I don’t care about it intrinsically. It doesn’t represent anything for me and I don’t have any plans to do anything else either with it or, or in place of it then then what are you doing? Who are you? You know, you’re the person who skipped two grades of math to play World of Warcraft. Like that’s not, it’s not a thing. So, um, I think about that in the same way. You know, I want to be the person who got to do this other thing. I want to be, you know, I want to get ahead so that I can do more. I can enjoy more.
Al: 52:01 Yeah. You’re striving to excel and achieve and you’ve got a desire to continue to improve.
Leon: 52:09 Okay. So any final words? Any final thoughts before we wrap this up?
Josh: 52:12 Uh, in the, uh, the immortal words of the wonderful Australian rock band INXS,
Al & Leon: 52:20 [Snickering & laughter]
Josh: 52:20 uh, don’t change for you.
Al & Leon: 52:27 [Hysterical laughing]
Leon: 52:27 [Laughing] No, go ahead, keep going… [More laughing]
Al: 52:27 [Laughing] It’s a good thing. People will see this, but they’ll just hear this.
Josh: 52:31 This is good. Don’t change…
Josh: 52:37 [More laughing] No, no, it’s great!
Everyone: 52:37 [Laughing so hard we are crying now]
Leon: 52:37 [Laughing more, trying to get under control] Ok, ok, I’m muting myself. Okay, go ahead Josh.
Al: 52:37 [Laughing so hard he is snorting]
Josh: 52:37 [Breathless laughing, pounding the table]
Leon: 52:37 Josh?
Al: 52:37 [Laughing] He walked away. He couldn’t take it! Now he’s got me looking up an INXS on my phone. Nevermind. Right.
Leon: 53:01 [Laughing] We’re going to leave you guessing. Read the show notes. We’ll find out what the quote was. Thank you so much, Al. It’s good to have you back.
Al: 53:07 My pleasure.
Leon: 53:08 [Much more laughing] I love you like a brother. Okay.
Josh: 53:11 [Laughing] See you later guys!
Josh: 53:13 [More laughing] Pleasure to meet you Josh, thank you. Beautiful.
Speaker 5: 53:14 Thank you for making time for us this week. To hear more of technically religious visit our website at TechnicallyReligious.com where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions, or connect with us on social media.
Leon: 53:26 You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you might find you get what you need.
Josh: 53:32 Wait, did you just quote the Rolling Stones?
Leon: 53:35 No, that was, that was from a wise old man.
Al: 53:37 Mick Jagger is wise??