"You have memories to look back in past, Lalit", the push notification from my Facebook app read it this morning.
I tend to just shrug it off when Facebook reminds me of some things that happened to me on certain day in past. Seriously, why to bother and hold on to what has happened in past? But don't know why, I still decided to check out how interesting things were back then for me.
I kept scrolling until I stumbled upon my little rant, some nine years ago. Yes, nine years ago! Check it out -
It looks like I was upset because of someone so much so that the pain became unbearable and I had to express it somehow and apparently there was no better way out to express it (thank you Facebook). But the funny thing is, when I tried to think more about it today, I really could not remember what it was about and especially whom was it for. Was it for some friend, an ex, a colleague, some family member or my teacher? Whom was it really about?
Aah, I still can't remember it. But thinking about it indeed made me realise an important thing. And that is, whatever is bothering you a lot in present may not even be a thing you would remember in future. Sure, we all know it, alright. It's also true that we must focus on moving on...thinking about future... not looking back.....burning the past and all. All good. But boy! I discovered a beautiful thing about "looking back in past" today and I feel we all should do it once in a while.
No, no , no....I am not saying about holding on to past. It is stupid! I am talking about looking back, observing events from past as a person that you have evolved into today and then learning from it. Not all heartburns we felt in past were meant to push us down but may be those were meant to serve us in similar tough situations stored in future? If we could move on from similar situation in past, so far so that today we can't even remember what was it, why won't we overcome what we are going through in present times? Right?
The reason I'm writing this post today is simple. I'm healing from a lot of crazy things that happened with me all at once lately and going had gotten tough. That's not it, bunch of my friends reached out to me to lean on my shoulder for some crazy things happening in their life too and around same time. Isn't that interesting?
It looks like some weird celestial transformations are happening that are impacting almost all of us in some or the other way. I learned about one of my friends' break up, while other's plan for promotion got screwed, one lost her business contract wherein other friend got to see the true face of the person he trusted with his heart. It appears to me that we all are going through some or the other sort of transformations, realisations and awakenings and I think of it as a good thing. So, this post is for everyone going through such interesting times.
The difficult part is recovering, learning from it and moving on. Don't hold on to it. Don't think why me. Don't bother why somebody behaved some way, why other person moved on so quickly while you are still stuck. We all are different. Things stop mattering to some of us early and for some of us they take more time. If you are a deep person, your wounds are likely to be deep and naturally it will take more time to heal. If you are shallow (no, I am not judging you), your pain would be like some scratch on the body so healing will be faster. Everybody suffers but everyone moves on at different pace. It's all the same, but time differs and reasons behind those sufferings may vary. But in the end, it settles, it stops bothering you and that matters the most.
Another important realisation for me has been, that whatever wrong treatment you get from others, it's not always about you. It's more about them, their own struggles, their own fears and insecurities, and whatever they are dealing with in life at that point of time. Be kind. Play your part with as much empathy, compassion and love as possible. If they realise and respect it at some point then good, else you always have an option to detach with love. At-least you would have no regrets in future that you did not try. And I am sure that dealing with difficult situations this way will make you even better person and that you would suffer less.
As time passes by and as your own brave acts from your past inspire you, you should be all right. Whoever has said, "It happens for a reason", has rightly said it. It happened for a reason back then, it has happened for a reason this time and you never know, it might happen for some reason in future too. Just make sure to look back in past once in a while to know how bravely you fought it out and how insignificant that event turned out to be over the time. If you do that, I promise your way of looking at your troubles will become totally different.
Today, the struggle I had to deal with nine years ago, suddenly made me feel very light about my struggles of now. And guess what? I am already curious how I would feel when I look back at my present some years from now on. I'm sure I would have a hearty laugh. And, what about you?
Evenings... I have started to fall in love with them.
After a tiring day at work, as I walk back towards my little nest ... I meet them on my way.
“Them who?”, you may ask. They are these little birds that do this blissful chirping... and some of them blow that sweet whistle. It feels like they now know me very well and are happy to see me around. Makes me feel so special I tell you. And then there are these beautiful trees. Some small and some of them being huge. They all are now lush, fresh and blooming with colourful blossoms. A couple of them even greet me with maddening fragrance of their flowers... And again... there is this tiny but cutely flowing canal. A bit mild but yet lively sound of its water when it splashes against little rocks in its way... it hypnotises me, I must say. That very old wooden bridge right above this naughty canal...it asks me to talk with it for a while, everyday. Sometimes it tells me the sweet old stories of old couple living in a big farm-house nearby and also about those naughty deers that come there for drinking water and run away as fast as they come. The bridge says he gets angry on them for not even saying “hello” but never forgets to mention how much he loves them.
Then I meet these big farms, proudly showing their bright yellow Rapseed. It looks as if whole land is wearing yellow blanket with lush green skirting. And what should I say about this saffron Sun? I have never seen something as magnificent as him. He is brightest of them all in the sky but still down to earth. I guess I would hardly find something as humble as a setting Sun. Until last minute of his goodbye for the day, his grace and elegance do not fade by a tinge.
Today I stopped by the bridge and asked them all, “hey, can I become your friend? I feel so lonely.”
They all bursted into a laughter as if they knew I would ask it some day. And then one of them said, “Why not? But there is one condition!”
“What condition?”, I asked hurriedly.
“You need to be your own friend first, young man”, said the old bridge and everyone else nodded.
The confused me looked at the giant oak tree there. “Let me explain”, said the kind guy.
“All of us here are in harmony with each other. But before that, we are in harmony with ourselves. If you want to be one of us, you need to become one with your inner-self. The day you do that, you will find yourself among us.”
I believe I got it. What I have been seeking outside, must be deep down inside me too. Quietly thinking about it for a while, I smiled, felt like I got an answer I have been looking for. I thanked them and we parted our ways... with a promise to meet again tomorrow.
I can’t wait to become one of them someday! And be in harmony with myself first!
"I am software tester. My job is to break software." , said one student in my Exploratory Testing workshop. I asked him to elaborate and explain me his techniques to break the software. He was silent for moment and then said he did not know how exactly to answer that.
I further asked about the last defect he found and how did he find it. He could explain that to my satisfaction. Then I asked if the defect was already there or something that he did introduced it. Student realised where I was coming from and admitted that he did not break software, he only helped to uncover the software which was already broken. Then I asked him once again to explain his techniques to uncover those already broken points and he explained that to my satisfaction again without getting frozen in between.
One of the important lessons I have learned from James Bach and something that I make sure to propagate in my discussions with testers is that, we (testers) need to be careful of the vocabulary we use to describe our work because it indeed makes big difference. With this little change, I have experienced the change in me in terms of how I perceived things before with the use of established vocabulary and after starting to choose my vocabulary carefully. That's not it, I have witnessed that when you help people to realise the same in a constructive way, they also make sure they help others to realise it. And this "chain reaction" of propagating that gesture is in my opinion, an important part of contributing to the craft.
I came across this thought-provoking post written by Maaret Pyhäjärvi (influential colleague in testing community I respect and admire ) and some of the arguments she has made, made me ponder upon my own attempts and experiences.
In her blog Maaret says:
Instead of changing the vocabulary, I prefer changing people's perceptions. And the people who matter are not random people on twitter, but the ones I work with, create with, every office day.
I totally support the idea of helping to change peoples' perceptions. I have made those efforts and have seen that taking effect. The approach is very much in line with Weinberg's idea of influence and that has always been my first approach towards changing something. However, the results in this particular case in my experience have been short-lived. I found people to be coming back to their initial understanding which was primarily shaped by established vocabulary and every once in a while I had to discuss the same thing with them again. Can I say my efforts were paying off? I guess not really.
What was and is the problem?
I realised that people that I had helped change their perception (mostly programmers and non-testers) got back to old vocabulary because other testers and stakeholders they were working with, were totally unaware of what they were talking about and why. Those people found it very frustrating to explain others their rationale behind using different vocabulary and eventually they gave up. I remember of one programmer friend coming to me and saying that he felt silly and stupid because the tester he was talking to was totally clueless of what he meant. And he finally said if testers themselves don't care about what their vocabulary should mean, why should he? And he was right!
The problem is, testers who understand the problem with established vocabulary are very less in number as compared to an entire lot of project stakeholders who use it. And testers who make an effort and help others to change their perception are even less.
And this is why I personally see the problem with "living with" some established norms which need revision. I think it's a high time that we strongly disapprove of what we do not believe in. Because it badly affects all the efforts made by people who care. When we know about problem with things and still decide to live with them, our awareness about those problems becomes pointless or less effective if not.
It is not just about people around us
The other day I watched this humours video by AIB on mass technical recruitments where they pick two gardeners towards end of recruitment to fill their quota and say, "Let's put these two on manual testing. Who requires talent for that anyway?"
That was very difficult to digest for me but at the same time, I could not blame the producers of that video because our established vocabulary is not their problem. They just presented the widely established (and mistaken) perception of our established vocabulary.
If we as testers don't care enough about changing something wrong just because it is established, we are letting others shape wrong perception about our profession and that is a silent killer. One of the leading testing tool company recently tried to showcase "manual testing" as outdated, bad testing and proposed their tool that supports Exploratory Testing as a solution. Major part of our industry still considers testing = manual testing = bottle neck and hence thinks of eliminating testing all together. But in reality what they want to get rid of is bad testing only and not manual testing or testing as such. If it is not us then who else is supposed to care about these problems and make efforts to solve them? And I don't know how best we can stop it other than getting rid of the labels and classification which is adding a lot to confusion.
In my opinion, we are responsible for how we let others shape their understanding of us. And no matter how hard we try to do it with people around us, there will always be people beyond our scope who will undo what we do. If we keep collecting the karma of living with established vocabulary and do not make deliberate efforts to change it, it is most likely going to haunt us and our generations (if at all we survive).
It is now up to us whether to collect that karma or to cleanse it. Cleansing sounds reasonable to me but I am still looking for more options . What if we do both?
A passionate & thinking tester. Trainer & student of the craft of testing. Father, Foodie and dog lover. Chief Editor and Co-founder of Tea-time with Testers magazine.