Mental Engineering Wizardry – and Mike’s Brain
Engineering is a tough gig. It requires you to be dogmatically pragmatic, yet pragmatism doesn’t breed greatness. Greatness is about creativity and innovation coupled with effective execution. They don’t teach you that in Engineering school. Schedule and budget driven projects don’t exactly nurture it either.
That’s the challenge of engineering. And in this recovering economy where projects are being unleashed on lean teams you had better understand the mental triggers that unleash your "A" game.
When do you do your best work? I’ve been paying attention, and for me, the pattern is clear.
We all create value on a sliding scale. There are things we each do that are worth $1000 an hour, $10,000, or even more. But are there hours in the day where you’re not creating enough value to pull in minimum wage?
The key to success isn’t rocket science - maximize the former and eliminate the latter. Duh.
My best work, the $10,000 an hour kind, isn’t entirely predictable – but the pattern has been clear for years. So when am I most likely to be worth $10,000 an hour?
- When I’m sweating – not sweating a deadline, but a good run or bike ride. Something that makes the heart pound yet leaves my brain free to connect the dots based on bushels of facts and experiences.
- Early in the morning – emerging daylight is best.
- Listening passively to good music. I like a lot of music, but not all of it works the same way for me. Could be Miles, could be Dvorak. Good music tickles something in my brain that frees the seeds of creativity.
- Performing good music is even better, but that talent takes a lot of time and nurture – my own talent for that art has waned. Rekindling it would be great brain food.
- When I’m outside. Nature trumps Debussy.
- After I’ve completely cleared my head. This is increasingly difficult to do. A solid week’s vacation only works if I leave the laptop and Blackberry behind - a rarity. Hard physical labor combined with fierce concentration does it faster. Swinging my leg over a motocross bike and putting in enough hard laps to make my keyboard-jockey soft hands bleed does it every time.
Have you isolated the triggers that unleash your big dollar thinking? What works for you?
Reaching that state of self-awareness begs follow up questions. If you understand your triggers how do you nurture them? How well do they align with your work environment? What do you do to improve that alignment?
I’ve got my own answers - frankly some of them still need work (like putting in a motocross track behind the office) - but I’d like to hear yours. Talk back over on the blog and I’ll throw in some more of my own.
More often than not the epiphanies that emerge from those deep thoughts aren’t complex. In fact, the simpler it is the more likely it is to be effective. It just requires that you stick your head up far enough above the weeds to recognize what may be sitting right in front of you.
One simple fact that whacked us upside the head recently was that – in spite of doing nothing to promote it - we do a heck of a lot of what we call “OEM” business. I was reminded of it again as I worked with three different companies in the last two weeks on communications system designs or troubleshooting and every one of them included products discretely manufactured right here at B&B but under another company's brand. Hands down the hottest product lines for this kind of private-label OEM business lately have been USB converters and isolators. They’ve been out-pulling serial converters, Ethernet serial servers and Ethernet switches private label jobs by a factor of two lately.
So here’s a quick commercial for anyone that needs a communications converter as an accessory or tool to accompany your own product, we can hook you up. We manufacture ourselves, not at some plant that’s a 6 week boat-ride away so we pull these off fast, and are even able to do so at ridiculously low quantities.
What will you do today to nurture your own epiphanies? Share your insights on our blog.