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Tech Leadership

Who are you doing this for?

I was listening to a Tony Robbins podcast recently. His interviewer, from LinkedIn, asked him something like: “Tony, you do a lot of coaching with people who are already successful, or on their way. What advice do you have for someone just getting started?”

Seemed like an innocuous softball question to me, so I almost tuned out. Glad I didn’t because his answer contains the kind of hard won insight you only get from doing the kind of work Tony does, a lot of it.

Role models can be examples for you, but you’ve got to decide what are you going to give? What are you here to deliver? I think you’ve got to fall in love with whose lives you’re going to touch and through what vehicle. You can’t fall in love with your product or service today. It’s going to change. You’ve got to fall in love with the client. … And you’ve got to know more about their needs, their wants, their fears, their desires than they do.

Tony Robbins

This was such a powerful idea to me that I went back and listened to it quite a few times.

Why? What does Tony have to say to software engineers?

Well, if you’ve read my letters or listened to my own podcasts to tech leads (I’ve got a long way to go to be Tony!), you know that I hammer on you to make sure you give work meaning—to make sure there’s a vision for what the team is doing, and you too.

But I haven’t done great job at giving you ways to craft that vision.

Tony’s is one excellent way to to find a vision. Your team probably gets so lost in the what of what they’re doing, and that’s ok a lot of time. Lots of time it’s good to be in the emotional blue zone and to stay in the focused/flow state. As tech leads, we help our team get in that mode.

But because your team spends a lot of time in an emotional blue zone, it’s naturally a little depressing, melancholy even, for them. If they can’t emotionally come up for air and get a positive emotional connection (the “yellow zone” but I still owe you a blog on that) to what they’re doing, then they’ll be in that blue zone for too long.

All kinds of bad things happen when people spend too much time in the blue zone. People get burned out, depressed, lethargic, and worst of all, their engagement drops—sometimes a lot.

So find a vision, and use Tony’s advice as one way (probably not the only way) to help you find it!

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