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The Tinkered Mind
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August 1st, 2022
Left to our own devices with a challenge wholly within the bounds of our own agency, we can become benevolent dictators - controlling our own actions, deciding how to proceed, pivoting on the whim of discovery and progress.
But when paired with another person, or a team, we are thrust into a different kind of game, requiring a different kind of agency.
With a solitary task, a new discovery often inspires a quick assumption about its meaning. This is something we can test, investigate and iterate on. But when others are involved we don’t necessarily react with the same investigative pliability. Nor often do we even realize that our interaction with others is a different kind of game, one to get better at and apply the same kind of iterative, curious testing. No, with other people we assume rigidity. We are quick to grow cold, bitter, and pass judgement.
Strange that we don’t do the same when locked in solitary concentration. Certainly frustration can and does arise when we are left to our own devices, but it’s a much quicker road to walk in order to discover that the frustration is our own doing, and not the animated design of some inanimate project. (Perhaps this is why coding can be so bloody frustrating in the beginning… because a computer seems more like a living thin than an inanimate object that we manipulate)
The project of others is not one of dictating, as how we often approach it - no, when it comes to others, be they family, friends, coworkers, strangers, enemies and allies, it’s more like dancing. It’s a matter of accepting the movements of others as part of the game, and reacting in a way that isn’t acquiescent, but complimentary - with an edge. Most teams are imperfect and as a part of such teams we seek to push the team in a certain direction that is more in line with how we’d steer if the whole damn project were our own. But this betrays what it means to collaborate and work well as a team. It’s perhaps universally safe to assume that any team could benefit by having it’s weakest aspects addressed and taken care of. Sometimes this is the most menial and mundane of task, and sometimes that means stepping away from the desired role of a leader in order to make sure the boring chores are done.
The true teammate is a chameleon - the person on the dance floor who can partner up with anyone, of any skill level and make both look fantastic. The teammate adjusts to the needs of the team on the fly, recognizing that the project at hand is better handled by the team if the question of how to best integrate the team is first and always addressed. The best team mate is a kind of leader who can even recognize when it’s time to step off the dance floor while someone else thrives in the spotlight.