In my previous post: How physical health improved my testing (Part: 1) I took you with me in my struggle to lose weight and regain control over my life. In part:1 I told you about my struggle with losing weight, but how did my health influence my performance as a professional. In this part of the story, I will take you with me on my journey of improving my professional performance and I will share you my 7 lessons learned why a better personal health has improved my testing.
So let me go back again to the end of 2015 were I was not in the best shape of my life, actually looking back I was in kind of the worst shape of my life. Overweighed, frustrated, everything but what to expect of someone loving his work. The question was did my colleagues also experience this?
Lesson: 1 However hard you try to hide you are not feeling well, people first start to notice it in your non-verbal communication.
At first, they did not notice my degradation in professional courtesy. They always said: “He has a long distance to travel” at that time it was true I traveled daily 350 km per day by car. But when the project moved to a location closer to home that excuse went away. When the project ended for me (around mid-2016), they said that they had noticed it for a while but were afraid to tell me. They saw that I was doing my utmost to deliver quality, they also knew that the assignment at hand was the most exciting one but they also witnessed that I was not contributing much to the team discussions. They literally saw me struggling with my self. It was not the degradation in work quality as it was the degradation in the ability to participate actively in discussions, that was the first trigger for most colleagues.
Lesson: 2 Sometimes things are better not said, but done when you are asked to do so even if you don’t feel like it.
As the year progressed and the new project took off, I was able to recharge the battery and be able to do what I love most. But soon the colour of new wore of the project and I was busy doing my daily thing: testing, not thinking about the people surrounding me nor about my added value to the project. I literally said don’t bother me with managerial bs and let me do my job, to the project manager when he wanted a test-update. So he took me apart from the team and told me the shocking truth to me. He said to me you better get your shit moving in the right otherwise we have to say goodbye. So I gave him the update he wanted to have.
Lesson: 3 Personal standards are project dependent
Lesson:4 You shine when you feel good
I got my shit together but for me, it did not feel good. In my view of the world, I could not deliver the quality of work that was expected of me. I felt I was a dog chasing is own tail and I needed to break out of it. The wake-up call was made and the every project member I asked said to me they were very proud of the work I have moved and the improvements I suggested to get the project moving. But still, it felt I was not my self. I could not come up to my own standards. People tell me often that my standards are too high not be human. But you know they are mine and it is my level of quality of work I want to contribute to the project. No matter how hard I tried and pushed and pulled, it felt like I was dragging on a dead horse. However, treacherous I decided to lower my standards after a talk with the project manager. He told me I see you want to deliver A+-quality and how you are used to delivering that level of quality, but the quality of the materials used in this project is B at the most. So if you do not want to have the feeling that you are losing, please take my advice and make your standard project dependent and go for a B and get an A instead of going for A+ and getting a B. This felt like treason, but it was a valuable lesson for me. It made me feel good and I started to shine when the team achieved goals and when the recommendations I made were implemented.
Lesson: 5 When you feel good, it is easier to get the right tone of voice
So projects come and go and I enrolled from on into the next and I did my job and it felt good. So when I stepped up to one of the team members and asked them what could be considered as an attack on his work. I asked him to clarify a bug I just retested and which should be solved but was not solved. He told me he forgot to check the code in and he made like 1.000 apologies. Which was by any means not necessary. I told him that making mistakes is human and we both had a laugh about it. He also told me that he would hit me in the face when I would make such a remark earlier that year. I asked him, how come you did not do it right now. He told me, that it was all in my attitude and that he had the feeling that I was a different person than earlier that year.
Lesson: 6 It easier to put things in the right perspective, when you feel good about your self
So now my mental health was up to standard, my physical health was somewhere in the region I could live with the figures on the scale and team members on projects I participate on to tell me I do a good job. So now when people tell me to shut-up I know they don’t mean it the way they shout it out. When team members tell me they cannot reproduce a bug, it doesn’t feel like a personal attack. Heck, I even don’t feel scared about getting my documents into a review session. Whereas I earlier always was scared of the comments people would make on my documents, I now consider them as free gifts for improvements and not as personal attacks.
Lesson: 7 It is easier to look for the unexpected test case, when you feel good about your self
So the last lessons I want to share with you is my personal favourite, as testers, we always try to design our test cases the best way we can and tailor them to situations users come into but developers don’t tend to think about.
As I am a passionate tester who is sometimes a little frantic in designing his test cases, one day not so long ago, I was testing an insurance portal and I remembered that with car insurance there is a thing with the number of damage free years in the Netherlands. So I entered -1 into the field where people can enter their number of damage free years and in the confirmation screen where it was I did not have -1 free years, which actually mean I kind of a reckless driver, but I had +1 which entitled me in the test environment to a rebate of 5%. When I told the developer this, we went together to the product owner and elaborated the case. In the code –1 became + that mistake was easily found. But the Product Owner was not convinced negative years were allowed, but he was convinced that it should not lead to a positive amount of damage free years. He suggested setting the lowest allowed value to 0, that led to another problem. As -1 gave now a NULLPointer exception.
So the Product Owner and Me we went to HQ of the insurance company and went to talk to the guy who knew everything about car insurances (the Oracle) and so he knew his matters. He told the Product Owner I was right and that there was a max of -5 which results in a penalty of an addition to the premium. The Oracle told us that there was also a maximum rebate of 75% applicable to the premium. The discount how long you drove around without damages you never get more discount than 75%.