Skip to main content

Win Forever by Pete Carroll

I just read Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion by football coach Pete Carroll. What did I think? That it’s a must-read for any engineering leader. Even in my 14th year of team management, I still learned new tips from Carroll’s work. Concepts like communicating your philosophy, focusing on work vs. the outcome, and staying positive are all crucial both in sports and in software.

It was refreshing to be reminded that in football, as well as in software, you are your own competition. Staying focused on your work and your customers -- rather than those of your competition -- is what will make or break your company. Pete Carroll also talks about the tightening that takes place when people are uncertain about their abilities or goals:

The only competition that matters is the one that takes place within yourself. It isn’t about external factors. Tim Gallwey and his Inner Game approach to performance has had a huge impact on how I look at the challenges of coaching. Specifically, Gallwey wrote about how human beings tend to enter a state of doubt when faced with the unknown or uncertainty. When that occurs, he wrote, we instinctively “overtighten.” Physically, when we doubt our ability, we will tend to overtighten our muscles. Mentally, we fear failure and can become emotional and distracted.

I have seen similar tightening when people feel micro-managed or put down by their leadership. Believing in your team and making sure they have the support is something you can’t do enough of. Positive energy generally gets positive results.

One of the key quotes in the book is about forcing performance vs creating opportunity for the players:

What if my job as a coach isn’t so much to force or coerce performance as it is to create situations where players develop the confidence to set their talents free and pursue their potential to its full extent? What if my job as a coach is really to prove to these kids how good they already are, how good they could possibly become, and that they are truly capable of high-level performance?

This is great advice -- and I wonder how it would work if applied in a corporate engineering setting.

One of the advantages of this approach is inherent in the context of pro sports: highly competitive games with a readily available supply of players that greatly outstripping the number of spots on the field, even the roster. For instance, all the people who treated football as “just a job” dropped out way before NFL.

The dynamics are slightly different in the software industry; there is a shortage of qualified Software Engineers, so someone skilled -- even if not necessarily passionate -- is still likely to make the cut.  

In summary, Carrol’s book offers some great “plays” that you can adapt to your life, but don’t expect a complete playbook.

-mb

PS: If you liked this post you should check out the Three Pillars of Engineering Management and Emotional Intelligence on Software Teams

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

SDET / QA Engineer Interview Checklist

After interviewing and hiring hundreds of engineers over the past 12+  years I have come up with a few checklists.  I wanted to share one of those with you so you could conduct comprehensive interviews of QA Engineers for your team.

I use this checklist when I review incoming resumes and during the interview.  It keeps me from missing areas that ensure a good team and technology fit.  I hope you make good use of them.  If you think there are good questions or topics that I have missed - get in touch with me!


SDE/T or QA Engineer interview checklist from Mike Borozdin
If you like this checklist you might want to check out these posts:
Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams  and Good-bye manual tester, hello crowdsourcing!

Why you should take the software job in San Francisco (or not).

Silicon Valley is an iconic place for technology.  Many people say this is the place for the “best and the brightest.”. Apple, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Twitter and other top companies draw a lot of talent form all over the world and the largest chunk of VC capital goes to companies in the Bay Area, so it seems like moving here is a no brainer!

The real situation is actually not that simple, I believe there are three scenarios where it makes sense, but in many cases living in the Bay yields disappointing results.  The cost of living, housing situation, homeless catastrophe make places like San Francisco a lot less appealing to a lot of people.  So in what situations does it make sense to move to SF?

Startup founder raising millions There are many places to be a startup founder, but if you are looking to raise capital the largest pool of VC money is in the Bay Area.  There is an established network, events and conferences which give founders an opportunity to pitch more people th…

Pull Requests and Code Reviews

Software development involves a great deal of collaboration.  One of the most basic blocks of collaboration on a software development team is a code review.  There have been many different ways of doing code reviews over time, some of this has been dictated by the tools available.  Git and online source collaboration tools created a set of best practices that are worthwhile of adopting on any team.

About a month ago I have looked at various articles about how to best create a Pull Request (PR) and do a code review and the attached presentation is the result of this research.  The presentation can help you guide your team and develop a set of collaboration practices that works for your particular situation.

It’s good to start out with why to seek a code review.  Having clarity about your intentions helps you guide the person helping you with code reviews and also to manage your expectations about you can get out of the code review.  The reasons for seeking a code review are generally …