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Ras Algethi
Metallic toroid concatenation
Self-control, the long view, and jobs 
16th-Sep-2013 05:04 pm
eUMa A0p

That post describes a series of studies showing the influence of "high-level, abstract, and/or forest-rather-than-trees" thinking on the willpower of participants. One of the studies went like this: You hold a grip exerciser as long as you can, to establish your baseline strength. Then you either write about how you maintain your good health ("exercise"), or why you maintain your good health ("to do well in college"). Then you hold the grip exerciser again, as long as you can. And if you were in the "why" condition, you probably hold it longer. There were variants. It's interesting reading, and fairly short.

Though this is only a few studies, the suggestions for increasing your self-control by exercising long-range thinking and keeping goals in mind... they make a lot of sense. It also makes sense that I should have trouble with that, because I am so very fond of turning my brain off and meticulously executing routines and just being generally detail-oriented.[*]

Then it occurs to me that I'm deliberately seeking jobs that are good for detail-oriented, meticulous people (QA). And I wonder, is that just going to make me worse? Should I be seeking jobs that will challenge me and push me in the opposite direction?

(I suppose the answer is going to be "both; strive for balance". It usually is.)

[*] Not that this is the only reason I suspect I have trouble with self-control. I also have the problem where, as a child, I was pretty much always rewarded for Being Smart and never for Working Hard. FTR, I don't blame my parents or any individual teachers for this. It seems like a systemic problem in the whole realm of Gifted & Talented Education.
17th-Sep-2013 12:15 pm (UTC)
I have heard that to be an outstanding employee, it's better to play to your strengths than to spend too much effort trying to round out your weaknesses. (Assuming your weaknesses are things like "not very organized" rather than "addicted to drugs") So I think you should seek jobs that are the best fit for who you are now, and your current strengths. Generally, jobs have opportunities to branch out later, but I think it's best to have the main part of the job be something you're likely to do easily. That way, when you're feeling confident and energetic, you can take on extra challenging stuff, but when you're struggling to do the minimum, you can do it with a lower amount of stress.
18th-Sep-2013 06:17 pm (UTC)
At least at Google, even a test engineer (our positions that are most comparable to QA) needs to have the ability to take the long view, to not only understand how a product works, but why it is working this way, in order to better test it. This in turn leads to needing to understand not only how testing is done, but also why, the strengths and weaknesses, and where we can improve our methodology. Not sure what kind of QA you are looking for / at, but if you want a challenge, we've definitely got it.
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