Closet Coder

I work in my closet. I code. Yep.

Pairing as a Life Habit

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I’m interested in creating a culture of pairing… not just in my workplace, but in my life. I want to be able to pair with people in order to improve on the skills I alread have. This is seen clearly in the relatively new #pairwithme ‘micro-movement’ that is happening on twitter. It shows that people want to learn from each other and improve their craft.

But it doesn’t have to apply solely to programming. Last weekend I “paired” with a neighbor to fix my lawnmower. He is a bit more mechanically inclined than I was, but it took both of our efforts and problem solving to diagnose and fix the problem. All in all, a worthwhile time where I improved both my relationship with Ben and my ability to cut my grass. He got something out of it too, he felt great and is excited to tackle more mechanical projects. This is exactly the same reasons we talk about the benefits pairing in the first place.

It makes me wonder how we can do this in other areas of our lives. Maybe it doesn’t look quite as analogous as fixing a mower does to solving a puzzlenode problem, but could it look like something? What if we “paired” with our spouse to work through a problem we’re having with our kids? What would that actually look like? It seems like now it looks like a lot of yelling and saying “you don’t understand me” – maybe it could look different. Maybe it could look like sitting down, trying to define the problem (‘I feel like Josh is out of control’, ‘Our kids watch too much TV’, ‘It seems like Karen is having trouble listening’) and then talk through possible ways to address it. I think the key here is that it doesn’t have to be a fix. There is not One Right Answer, but simply a way to attack the problem. Isn’t that what pairing is anyway? Sometimes you don’t get to the end of a problem when you pair, but sometimes you do. It’s much more about helping each other move forward in attacking it.

All that to say, I intend to begin looking for ways to pair in my life, including my professional life, by setting aside time to do so. For my programming, that means 9-10 CDT on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. There will be exceptions, but that’s my goal for the next month. I’d like to see my TDD improve, as well as my ability to work alongside others.

See you on irc.freenode.com/#pairwithme!

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