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Put yourself an oxygen mask first

Everyone who has traveled by plane at least once knows that famous demonstration by the flight attendants in case of an oxygen shortage in the cabin. They teach us to first put on our own oxygen masks so that we are able to help the person next to us if they need assistance. So, I was wondering why do we need to wait for an oxygen shortage?

Life flows, everything is a process. So, during the day, we have various TO-DO lists that we try to tick off, spontaneous moments, as well as unforeseen circumstances. We meet different people, participate in various projects, and everyone goes through some kind of unique experience.

How is linear and slow, What and Who opens up new possibilities, pleasant experiences, ease and flow

Allow me to share my experience while working on one of the IT projects.

One of my premises when I start working on a project is to work on it in such a way that someone else can take it over at any time without feeling the absence of my presence.

One of the engagements was in the role of Technical Agile Coach. My task was to help the team raise their in-house project to a new level (which I had a feeling was older than Godzilla 😆), so that they could add new features easily. At the same time, to impart knowledge and skills to continue development independently by applying new methodologies and skills. We allocated 6 months for this, working intensively for 4 hours per day.

Anyone who takes some legacy code to refactor and improve at least once a day knows that the feeling can be like crying while chopping onions.

There were moments when I felt fatigue both due to technical debt and various language barriers. My friends say that I am exceptionally resourceful, especially in “borderline” situations. Driven by my resourcefulness and curiosity, I decided to introduce newness into the work and approach to the project.

During the 4 hours of intensive refactoring, I was returning to myself several times using various awareness-raising exercises. I was in the present moment every minute, relying on my own and the person’s emotions while we worked with on the project through pair-programming.

Whenever we encountered a difficulty in the project, an inability to find a solution, we would bypass the “how” and enter the space of possibilities, pleasant experiences, ease and flow. Despite the intensity, the introduction of a new approach led us to outstanding results. One of the most significant to me is that no one burned out!

And this is one of the impressions of a colleague regarding our work together:

I had a great time doing pair-programming with Olgica Djuric. The sessions helped me learn and reinforce good practices for making both our program and code better. We learned the refactoring recipes to make the code testable. Next to that we learned the significance of daily mind-maps that force you to think back on what we did to learn what worked, what can be improved, and what should be changed to make the development experience more pleasant and effective.
Our code and coding practices are much improved after the sessions we had with her. The number of test cases we are now able to create and maintain have increased 50-times over.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Today, you don’t have to be a neuroscientist to understand how the brain works. The internet is full of materials and other people’s experiences. And the best of all is: You can try it out through your own experience!


This picture represents insights from the MS Human Factor Labs.

By using tools and techniques such as PQ Reps, we can reduce stress, increase awareness, creativity, and activate parts of the brain that are much more powerful than just using the dry, rational, and sabotaging part of the mind.

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