From building walls to building software
Throughout my life I have loved to ask questions. If you ask any family member of what little Miles did - I'm sure you'll get, he asked "why" or "how does that, do that?" ALOT. So much so my aunt got me a book called "How things work" Christmas gift around 4th/5th grade hoping that it would settle my curiosity. I know back then it was probably a bit annoying, but I'm grateful that for that insatiable curiosity now.
The path so far
Broadly, my journey has been:
Grew up in the family landscaping business
Calvin University, studied business finance
Internships/work at finance companies
Back to the family business
Move to DC, work for another landscaping company
Designing and leading software development
As I move forward I have found that there are several things that have helped me keep focus and keep pushing forward.
My faith in Jesus Christ
Friends and family who are honest, authentic
Great mentors who give feedback and trusting that advice
Striving to empathize and learn what is causing another pain and how to remove it
Consistently depositing into my "knowledge bank"
This is always a topic that is such an easy one to talk about, but hard to implement every single day. One thing that has really brought my faith to another level in practice and understanding has been my reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In this book he simply lays out: Jesus asks us to follow, gives us the guidance of what a disciple looks like through the gospels and we go out and do. A really compelling argument he gives is that in order grow in faith is to simply live out and act on faith every day. This is the only way that we can truly experience faith in Christ, versus trying to understand from an intellectual level.
The whole concept of "just doing it" (thanks Nike) just hit me in a new way recently. My faith has always been real, but has always been practiced in a safer space. Being bold and living by Christ's directions and example by faith in every circumstance has really made things click for me. This carries into all other aspects in learning and trying new skills as well, which is really cool!
Friends and Family
I'm blessed to be surrounded by great friends and family, I don't take this for granted and wish that everyone could have the same experience. These people are absolute game changers in helping me get out of my own way, giving feedback when asked (and not). Every friend has their little piece of encouragement and support that helps me reflect and realize what I could do better or what I have done.
I have several people in my life that I go to for advice, up and down the age and experience gamut. These people I'm able to give a call, shoot a text and ask a question and get a good perspective. Having good mentors is one thing, I think the biggest reward that I get is when I trust their advice and experience and take action. It's leveraging (in a good way) others knowledge that they got the hard way which enables me to get a little glimpse into those experiences and maybe not have to go through the same experience.
Empathy is really the end result of the above combined. The foundation and the tying knot is love. We only make ourselves better people when we love others, we approach with the benefit of the doubt, get curious and ask questions about why others feel/do they way they do.
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 37-40
Empathy is foundational to truly understanding another's problem and getting to a point where it can be resolved. This is where I actively attempt to put aside pride and bias, and truly try to feel what the other is feeling. I can really never reach that 100%, but it's worth the shot.
The world of tech is an awesome industry to be a part of, mainly because there is persistent innovation. There is always something new coming up and out. There are also a ton of resources out in the open to learn from. I started knowing next to nothing about how to manage/design a software project, but after 9 months of being in this position I've been able to get a grasp of what I don't know yet. Here are some books that changed the game for me:
The Speed of Trust
Thinking Fast and Slow
The Design of Everyday Things
Google (not a book, but google all the things)
I participate in a podcast with some other fellow Green Industry folks called Growing in the Green Industry. This has been really fun learning from a consistent group of guys in the industry and sharing knowledge, this has definitely made me a better leader for sure.
Also, book clubs are your friend! I'm currently in 2 and it has helped me stay accountable and digest what I just read. It forces me to take notes to be prepared for the meeting and try to explain concepts to others, which in turn helps me understand them better.
Bringing it home
I'll be blogging more about the specific things that I learn and pickup, but this is a little overview of where I'm at right now. I figured that I would make more or less a public notebook, so maybe my learnings will help you save some time or put you on the right direction if you're searching for it.