“Technology and tools are useful and powerful when they are your servant and not your master.” ~ Steven R. Covey
Every good ninja needs an equally good set of tools to tackle the daily barrage of tasks and issues they deal with. This is true for any profession. A police officer for example. I’m sure as soon as you read “police officer” you thought of gun, handcuffs, taser, police car, etc… These are all “tools” a police officer uses to do their job.
Obvious or Not?
What tools can you think of for the following professions?
In each case, I’m sure you thought of the very obvious and common tools, and maybe some of you thought of a few less common ones. Take the salesperson for example, some obvious tools might be a computer, a calculator, the “sales” material like a pamphlet or brochure, and of course the object they’re selling, like a car, or a house. But what about some less obvious ones? Like their shoes, suit and tie or blouse and skirt? How a salesperson looks can affect the customers perception, so this is a vital tool, and one that shouldn’t be ignored. Similarly, “soft” skills like communication, observation, problem solving and adaptability are all essential tools of this trade. And you can probably recall an experience with a salesperson whose tools were… shall we say “rusty”.
Keep ’em Sharp!
This brings me to my next point. You have to take care of your tools if you want them to last. For a physical tool, like a computer, this might mean having a good antivirus program, doing regular cleanups and backups, updating software, etc… But what about “soft” tools as mentioned earlier? How can you take care of those? Well, for starters, don’t stop using them! Practice makes perfect right? Well… sort of. If you keep practicing the wrong thing, then you’ll end up doing it perfectly wrong every time! So with practice also needs to come learning, and relearning. Read books, observe your coworkers, both the good and the bad ones, you can learn a lot from other peoples mistakes. Go to seminars, watch YouTube videos (TEDtalks are pretty great). Basically, do anything and everything you can to continuously learn and continuously improve the tools of your trade.
Over the next several posts I’ll write about some of the tools of my trade, how I use them, and more importantly why I use them. And even if you’re not a software engineer like me, I think the concepts all still apply and I hope you’ll find something useful.