Podcast Review: Soft Skills Engineering

My career is in software development. Developers have a reputation for being good at the technical skills required for the job but lacking in the “soft skills” that are essential for a well-rounded, successful career. The podcast Soft Skills Engineering aims to help developers get better at those skills. Jamison Dance and Dave Smith, the hosts, have many years of experience both as software developers and as leaders at various levels of engineering organizations.

The Summoned Life and Setting Goals

David Brooks, in a New York Times op-ed, coins the term the “Summoned Life”. He proposes this as a counterpoint to the “Well-Planned Life” best described by Clayton Christensen in his book “How Will You Measure Your Life?”. Christensen suggests that life is best lived when it is planned, when you set goals for what is most important and work tirelessly to achieve them. Brooks suggests that another way to live life is less focused on your individual goals and aspirations and more focused on responding to the circumstances and context in which you are living today.

Leading a Chronic Complainer

Having a complainer on the team can sap morale. It can be infectious, akin to gossip, and it is rarely productive. You won’t be able to solve it from the top down—indeed, discouraging complaining outright tends to drive it underground where you have less visibility into the problem. Instead, you will want to understand and address the root causes underlying the behavior. Understanding their motivations Chances are, this team member is not intentionally trying to drag down the team or make your life harder.

Walking Meetings

A few months ago, I was driving an ATV up a rocky trail with a few other men I had met only the day before. The sun had set and we turned on the headlights, pulling bandanas over our noses to keep the dust out of our lungs. You couldn’t hear anything but your own thoughts as we clambered over tree roots and rocks on the way up the mountain.

Mindset: Fixed vs. Growth

The research of psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck describes two kinds of mindsets: fixed and growth, which she documents in her book, "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" . These two ways of thinking about one’s own intelligence and capability have a tremendous impact on how much an individual is able to learn and how they respond to failure. A fixed mindset sees intellect as a limited, innate quantity. A person believes they were born with a certain amount of capability, and once they reach that capacity, they will be limited in how much more they can learn or accomplish.