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My wife is a medical resident. In the US, she’d be called an intern. Basically what that means is that she graduated med school, and is now doing her practical training to specialize. In her case, she’s becoming an anesthesiologist. Part of her training involves completing rotations in different parts of the hospital. So, every month or two, she’ll switch what department she’s working for and meets a whole slew of new people. Every time she makes one of these transitions, at least one of the people she meets will shake...read more
Bad news is a fact of life. Brutal, I know, but it’s true. You’re going to have to deal with it on a daily basis if you’re basically a normal person. The world of engineering is no exception. We deal with incredibly complex systems, with too little information to fully understand them, and too little time to process that information. As a result, we sometimes hear (or create) bad news. If you’re going to succeed in this profession, you need to figure out how to deal with bad news. The ability to handle the stressful,...read more
Are you the kind of engineer who isn’t satisfied just cruising along? Are you looking to be one of your company’s best? Here are 67 things that you can do today to become your company’s top engineer. Start today by choosing just five and putting them into action. Once those five become part of your regular routine, chose another five and keep going. I’ve also added excellent references and reading material within the action item wherever I could. The List Get enough sleep. Eat properly. Prepare for meetings. Take...read more
My dad used to coach my younger brother and I in soccer when we were kids. One of my dad’s soccer proverbs was that it was important to pass the ball not to where your team mates were, but to where they were going to be. Every play, in other words, should set the team up for forward motion toward the other team’s net. Hockey legen Wayne Gretsky is famous for a quote that captures the same idea nicely. He said “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” So,...read more
A friend of mine and I went out to one of my favourite pubs a few nights ago to talk about his career. He’s considering making a move from his current employer to be able to pursue other interests, but wasn’t sure if he should. You see, his current job is with a very well-respected company and his position looks incredible on paper. The problem is that he’s just not challenged. In short, he doesn’t love what he’s doing, and I think this is a problem for him. Why you need to love what you do So why should this be...read more
[Note from Pat: This is a guest post from my friend Christian Knutson. Chris is an expert in both engineering and leadership, with decades of experience in the military and as an entrepreneur. He's the author of www.engineerleader.com, an excellent read for anyone who reads this blog.] Enter Christian: Whether you like it or not, every thing in your life is changing. The projects you’re working are changing – perhaps progressing or falling behind. Your feelings about the work you’re engaged in changes, sometimes daily. Your mind, body… OK…...read more
A colleague of mine, Christian Knutson, of the excellent and highly recommended The Engineer Leader blog, recently sent me an article by Leo Babauta. The title is “Achieving without goals“. Leo, who’s the master of all things Zen and living life simply, argues that you should live without goals. I think this is ridiculous. Let me explain why. A life without goals Yeah – that’s right. He says we shouldn’t have goals. Basically, Babauta is saying that goals tend to get in the way of living life in a way that...read more
I’m a firm believer that you need to have fun at work. The way I see it, you spend more waking hours at the office and with your co-workers than you do with you do with your own family. If the majority of your life is spent not having fun… well, life would suck. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should goof off all day. You need to work when you’re at work. That being said, work doesn’t have to be drudgery. As frustrating as some people and some situations might be, you have the ability to chose...read more
This is something that we’ve discussed quite a bit at work recently – the difference between urgent tasks and important tasks. I think that most people can intuitively tell you what the difference is between the two if you’re discussing it over a cup of coffee. Important stuff needs to happen. Urgent stuff needs to happen now, whether its important or not. In order to be an effective engineer, you need to spend as much of your time as possible on what’s important, right? That should almost go without saying. The...read more
Back in Part I of this post, I talked about the goal of an engineer, and how to be truly productive. If your actions aren’t bringing you closer to your goal, then you’re not really being productive. Sure you might be getting things done, but you’re not going anywhere. You’re treading water – working hard to stay in the same place. In part II of this post, I want to give you some rock solid strategies that you can use today to make sure you’re being productive every day. Strategy 1 – Keep your goals in...read more