Features and Flaws, Flaws and Features, Maybe it’s all one and the same?

I LOVE toggling the worlds of corporate America and empire building: leading talent management in the technology industry and applying my light in our universe to coaching.  I truly consider it a blessing! I am literally ALWAYS learning, and for me, the best thing about learning is not being smarter, wiser, better. It’s actually sharing what I’ve learned with others not just so they can be smarter, wiser and better, but so their light also gets elevated for impact and inspiration!

One of the product area VPs I partner with asked for a meeting with me so we could dig deeper into some org design work this week.  We’d started a few weeks ago and now it was time to follow-up with some execution points. Of course, we’ve already hit a few hiccups to our original plan because….well….people! So, we were honing deeper into some of the requirements of a few new opportunities we’re digging into on the business side and how we leverage the teams most effectively for impact and truly lead in our space.  At one point, he shared what he had shared with a few direct reports that were addressing an interpersonal dynamic that had come up,

“but what they don’t understand is that that very dynamic on the team is actually one of their best features, not a bug.  It not only serves the work but if they could just see that it serves everyone on that team too, the impact would be truly immeasurable.”

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

Now, I’m not true techie (eg engineer/designer) but that spoke so many different things to me.  Essentially, what I understand is that a feature is basically a code that performs a specific action.  For example, speed dial is a feature (ok, duh, I know). It performs the specific action of calling someone via this way instead of having to actually dial that person’s full phone number.  

Now, a bug is whatever in the code would allow that feature to work, not actually being input correctly and as a result when you hit speed dial, it either does nothing or….say something crazy like takes a screenshot.  

For most of us, generally speaking, if something doesn’t work, it’s easier to just go get something new and replace what isn’t actually working.  An engineer, however, takes on the challenge to go through and debug, finding the error in the source of the code that is leading to the bug, fix it and facilitate the feature getting back to normal, performing it’s specific action.  

Now, imagine if instead of taking that route, the focus was just on the bug….

it doesn’t work

it’s not doing what I want it to do

it’s so frustrating

it’s not letting me get done what I want to do

and so on and so on and so on.  Stand still. No progress. And just a major adult tantrum with nothing else going on, looking at the whole as flawed and therefore worthless.  

Again, I’m sure there’s much more behind all of this and I’m taking some serious license in my explanation here but as it relates to us, I see this translating to the things we get caught up on as features gone bad, if you will, and get stuck in what we then call flaws.  A few that I often hear from my clients as their coach are:

  • I procrastinate
  • I daydream A LOT
  • I don’t put myself first and end up prioritizing everyone else
  • I’m horrible at time management
  • I don’t have the confidence to do x, y, or z
  • I’m just not that disciplined
  • I don’t do the best job of appreciating my husband

Now, those of us who identify with any of these could just accept that we’re procrastinators……we let our daydreams be the best part of of our days….we continue to prioritize everyone else because, and one client actually said this, “well, I guess that’s just what it means to be a wife and a mother, right?”….we could just accept that constant mode of letting time manage us…wallow in our lack of self-confidence, envying others who are more confident than us to be daring, bold, and fabulously fierce…allow the impact of having no discipline to take shape and just accept weight gain, health issues, disorder, interpersonal frustrations, hope and pray that our spouse doesn’t just go seek appreciation elsewhere (yup, real talk here).

You know what engineers do?  They go to the bug….investigate the flaw.  My understanding of that process (thanks to Google search results) is the following:

  1. Identify the error
  2. Find the error
  3. Analyze the error
  4. Prove your analysis
  5. Cover lateral damage
  6. Fix the error
  7. Validate the solution

Ok, ok, I know this needs some breaking down to make it more relevant.  Let’s take my flaw, my bug if you will, of not being able to run a half marathon with my friends, Lily and Jacquie.

  1. Identify the error: Mindset-I can’t run.  I’m really not confident in my ability to do this.   
  2. Find the error: What information do I have to confirm that I can’t do it?  Hellooooooo….I’ve never done it before. I will die. I know you think I’m being dramatic, but I will die….ok, a little dramatic….moving on….  
  3. Analyze the error: Input-Mindset shift and self-reflection. Is it really that I can’t run? Might it be that I just don’t have the confidence to run a full half-marathon, but I can run a little more than I can today, every day until the half-marathon? Are there things that I can do today that I wasn’t able to do years ago?  Months ago? Weeks ago? Heck, yesterday?!??!?!? Yes, yes, yes, and OMG yes!
  4. Prove your analysis: I’ve determined that I can actually run…yes, I know how to do that.  Now I need to know how far I can actually go, from an endurance standpoint, to determine how much farther I need to push myself to get to and establish a plan to do that.  
  5. Cover lateral damage: So this is about just making sure not to create any other bugs/flaws while addressing the one I’m focusing on.  In the case of addressing my level of confidence in my ability to train and ultimately run this feat, I had to set my mind right, ensure I have the right training plan for me, not compare myself to my friends who not only have done this before but done it multiple times over, and practically get the right gear, set a manageable schedule, track my progress and not get set back by any challenging training points.
  6. Fix the error: Get to the solution-execute on the training plan, track my progress and compare week over week progress, pushing myself every week, embracing the progress as inspiration to just. keep. going!
  7. Validate the solution:  In coding, this is about testing your scripts to fix the bug and making sure they pass your test.  For me, with my flaw, I had to use the training plan as the script and tracking the progress as my test to determine yes, I can run.  Yes, every week I’m running farther than I did the week before. Yes, Every week I’m getting closer and closer in my ability to run the full distance of 13k.  Guess what? A couple of months ago, I wasn’t even measuring in miles. I only really started running, with intention, two months ago and at that time, brace yourselves, three songs without stopping was my target before taking a break and doing that over and over again until I finished my three miles.  As of yesterday’s run, not only did I run farther than ever before without stopping, 4.58 Miles to be exact, I hit my fastest pace ever at 10:33 mins per mile! I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’m absolutely not where I was when I started, tracking progress with three to seven minute songs that never gave me insight into really how far I could go like this script did.

So what?  Let’s stop looking at ourselves as entities with features vs flaws.  Living fabulously fierce involves accepting everything about ourselves with an understanding that we are constantly evolving works in progress.  We have many features that serve us either as benefits and strengths, or those that need some honing in on to shift from resting as flaws and more as opportunities to “debug” through self-reflection (and coaching, for the really proactive ;)) and reinforce our purpose for being, the specific actions we’re here to fulfill.  So, here’s to features and flaws, really all one and the same for the fabulously fierce!

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