Mechanically Confident ~ Adam Cuppy

By Published On: January 4, 2019Categories: Blog, Podcasts

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Adam Cuppy, COO at CodingZeal

More often then not “confidence” is taught as a practice of positive self-talk. Stephany Hulburt (@sehurlburt) recently asked on Twitter “How do you make yourself feel confident?” and the most liked reply was “Confidence is a full acceptance of who you are by yourself. Not rejecting any parts of oneself. Then when you meet rejection you understand that it’s not because you are bad, but because a person may not like something that is truly yours.” @m_aleksandrova.

I agree with this… however, it’s not everything. Confidence can be developed, mechanically. We can be more confident without having to solely believe we’re confident.
I’ve been an actor for longer than a software engineer. As an actor, preparation is everything. Even improv actors rehearse – why, if they’re making it up on the spot? Because while the words may not be scripted, they follow a process that creates certainty, and certainty creates confidence.
Every single peak performer, not to mention every “Senior” Engineer has one commonality; they have or develop processes that wrap the uncertainty of the situation around them – a bug, a new domain, a new tech stack – and create the certainty that fosters confidence.
This talk is three parts:
  • The power of habit
  • Repetition and routine
  • Processes that wrap uncertainty
Each section contains a relatable parable in life and an action involving the audience. This talk is a look into peak performers across three prominent industries, and how their processes can be related back to confidence as a developer.
It’s no good to tell people that they should just be more confident by ‘believing in you’. We’ve all felt that failure; and the feeling that I can’t do something so simple – as others have illustrated – isn’t fair. The number one tool for any person at any stage is to recognize that processes create confidence – you don’t need to believe in yourself to be confident. I’ve been a professional actor for over 20 years. Confidence on stage is the byproduct of cementing the staging and the text in the body – the same applies to anyone in every industry. As a software engineer, I’ve used the same mental focus to develop processes that create certainty. We use design patterns, specific editors and use certain processes, such as pair programming, or even Ruby on Rails, to wrap the uncertainty of the unknown.
The result: a greater degree of confidence. My mission is to work the problem through parable and in-talk experience. Often the first step is facilitating a process to create a process (so meta). That’s what I do year after year, talk after talk, show after show.
Experience is not a result – it’s a tool.
This talk was given at the 0111 CTO Conference in Oct 2018.
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