Table flips and karate punches

At my day job (I’m a programmer when I’m not writing sales copy), we talk to other remote team members with an instant message program called HipChat.

It includes some fun “emoticons,” including this one:

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Can you see it? The little dude flipping the table in rage?

Lately I’ve been using that icon a lot.

As any programmer can attest, attempting to bend a computer to your will is often extremely frustrating.

The past couple of weeks I’ve ping-ponged between endless hours of tedious setup just so I can make simple, two-line code changes and troubleshooting random things that WERE WORKING JUST FINE YESTERDAY…

(Deep breath..)

I was venting to my mastermind buddies, John and Derick, about this, and John immediately spotted my problem:

“Slow down. Stop rushing.”

He was exactly right.

The root of my frustration was feeling like I should already be done with whatever task I was working on, and why was it taking so long?

Honestly, I am always rushing through tasks.

But why?

So I can rush through the next thing?

My kids have a little block set with different shaped holes in the lid. When they were first learning to use this toy, they’d try to put the star block in the triangular hole, and when it didn’t fit, they’d respond by pounding the lid and howling at the toy.

That was me this week.

After thinking about what John had said, I made a conscious effort to approach my work differently.

I picked one task (a bug in code I’d written earlier in the week) and decided to work on it patiently, whether it took me five minutes or five hours.

I ignored the other items on my list that I “needed” to get done, including the one that I “should” have been working on had I not created this bug.

This first task end up taking half the day to complete, and earlier in the week I would have been flipping tables all morning.

But after working through it systematically, I was in a much more positive frame of mind to tackle the next thing on my list.

And I was able to knock it out in half the time I’d planned.

In karate class, there was an old saying my sensei liked to quote:

“Whatever you seek, you’re least likely to find.”

In other words, if you try to throw a really fast punch, your body tenses up–and you slow down.

Turns out that applies to more than just punches.