3 weeks in and we have covered 3/4 of the SEAN stack and had a internal hackathon where we mixed with the Fullstack Academy Juniors and Seniors.
I'm surprised how much I've learnt and grown. I'm learning the strengths of my peers and how to ask for help. For the most part I'm trying to be able to lookup and understand solutions on my own. But in the economy of time, there is no shame in asking someone to help point you in the right direction.
The weather has cleared up and not too soon. I could feel the stress of 3 weeks and gloomy weather starting to sap my energy and dampen my spirits. I was glad to have the hackathon to vary the pace a bit.
For the hackathon we used the Tessel 2 microcontroller (and a variety of its modules) that run on Node JS to create hardware projects. It was also our first team challenge. I got to exercise some leadership in that session and gathered some take home points:
- Delegation is key
- Engagement is crucial
- And it's important to have a game plan of how to handle conflict in high stressed environments
I'd love to be perfect and to say I know how to handle all difficult situations like a boss. But if I'm completely honest with myself, I know that there are things that I could do better.
For the hackathon, I was assigned to a team of 5, plus a fellow (a rep from the school). We got the team assignments ahead of time and from the moment I saw mine, I was apprehensive. A person with whom I'd had a difficult pair programming session was to be part of my team and I could feel the anxiety of having to work with her.
For many people, it is natural to want to avoid conflict. You find ways to avoid that person at work/school/play who challenges you emotionally, who tests your patience or makes you weary for one reason or another. It was my intent after our partnering session to engage in such a game of hide and never seek. But life isn't meant to be easy and comforts are meant to be tested.
I could have asked to change teams, but didn't. It would communicate struggle or an inability to handle my own issues. I could have laid back and given up my agency and let the team succeed or fail without any real effort from me. But that would directly interfere with my sense of competition and excellence. So I jumped in with both feet.
No one died and we were able to work together with minimal casualties. But I realize I should have asked for help. Either talking to my testing teammate and working out a plan of how we could check ourselves in difficult situations, or alerting our fellow to my difficulty so that she could help navigate some of the high stress/tension moments.
Funnily enough our fellow didn't catch the secret war we were having. In her words, we had a very smooth group process. Perhaps, that is say that we were able to maintain a strained deference in order to not incur collateral damage. Or it's something else altogether.
I am open to the possibility that there is no actual adversary and my interpretation of such is really a breakdown in communication styles. One of my teammates who worked with us picked up tension as well, so I know it's not wholly imagined. But my task is to figure how much of it is my creation: a fulfillment of my anxiety if you will.
The hackathon assignment serves as a reminder that I can't always avoid conflict and so must develop tools to address it. I figure I have two options:
1. I will need to ask for mediation assistance and/or,
2. I will need to talk to this peer before our next involuntary partnering.
I know I'm afraid of how she will react but I fear the unresolved tension way more. It affects my work. And in the famous words of Sweetie Brown: "ain't nobody got time for that!"