Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Get a Little Weird… Once in a While

You don't need to be defined by your job” 
      -  (Weird) Al Yankovic

I work with a lot of engineers.  Heck, I’ll admit it… I actually am an engineer.  One thing that I notice wherever I go, is that engineers can take themselves way too seriously.  Let me say that again… WAAAAAYYYYY too seriously.

I get it.  You guys are out there making important, difficult, highly technical decisions.  But, come on... lighten up a bit!  It’s not brain surgery.  Well ok, I work with some companies that actually make brain surgery equipment.  So maybe it is brain surgery for some of you.  

Nonetheless, let’s allow ourselves to have some fun along the way.

Sometimes when I’m meeting with new customers I challenge myself to see if I can get them to laugh or at the bare minimum; at least crack a smile.  This challenge silently takes place in the back of my brain where, hopefully, no one in the outside world will hear or know about it. 

Now some of you overly analytical engineers are probably saying: “why would I direct perfectly good brain energy toward doing something weird when I can direct it toward doing something productive like solving problems and making better __(insert gizmos of choice)______?”   

Here’s why:  having a light moment doesn’t use up more brain power… it actually taps into the part of your brain you probably aren’t using!  Did some of you realize that there is also a right side to the human brain?  This can unleash some really great creative stuff that can be re-channeled back to your real (a.k.a. engineering) work.

So how do we get started in terms of getting a little weird…

1. Try my challenge of “getting someone to smile” while staying generally on topic regarding an engineering task or project. 2. Put something ridiculous in your office and keep it there until someone asks about it.  If nobody asks, you may have a social problem and should go back and read all of my previous blogs! 3. If 1 and 2 are too challenging (perhaps because they involve interactions with other humans), try something weird on your own.  Do a weird experiment like this:   

This kind of "pseudo-experiment" can be super-cool to watch... definitely something to invite others to come see.  It can energize your thinking and perhaps even lead to your next great idea.  I'll bet, after watching that video, some of you are already thinking about column buckling and internal pressures.

Do yourself a favor and do something weird today!

Rock on,

-          Mark