S4E46 Jeff Perry | The Intentional Engineer
Who is Jeff Perry?
Jeff Perry is a return guest and here today to talk about his new book The Intentional Engineer, which will help you become your best self, get clarity on what is most important to you, unlock your potential, and create success and impact in your career and life.
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work, mindsets, engineer, book, experience, write, career, life, move, feel, put, change, love, talking, recognize, action, professionals, step, identify, shift
Aaron Moncur, Jeff Perry
Aaron Moncur 00:02
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Jeff Perry 00:52
But in this concept, balance, I don’t love because it feels like the idea of balance is it static, and life and career always flowing?
Aaron Moncur 01:16
Hello, and welcome to another episode of The being an engineer Podcast. Today we have a return guest Jeff Perry, who is here to talk today about his new book, The intentional engineer, which will help you become your best self get clarity on his what is most important to you unlock your potential and create success and impact in your career and your life. Jeff, welcome back to the being an engineer podcast.
Jeff Perry 01:42
Aaron, as always a pleasure to talk to you.
Aaron Moncur 01:45
So tell me, where did the idea for this book come from? Why? Why did you feel compelled to write this?
Jeff Perry 01:53
Yes. So it’d be tough to say like just in the moment because like anything in our lives, it’s a compounding experience, right. But I’ve had a thought and a desire for years now that I wanted to write a book. But what book I wanted to write and when and how I was going to carve out the time to be able to do that, like, I just didn’t know, and I never committed to it. But as I was actually talking to you briefly before we started recording, it was through some conversations with mentors and coaches that I have that unlocked kind of this vision of what might be possible. And, and kind of, you know, they they were essentially asking, like, when are you going to write that first book? Because I’ve been writing blogs and articles and newsletters and things for years now creating content around how engineers can be their best selves and upgrade their lives and their careers for a long time. Why haven’t I written a book about it yet? Right. And so, and I had a particular timeline and event that I would have loved to that I’d love was excited to have a book for and so I sort of got this vision in my mind of like, how cool would that be to have a book at that day in time. And I work from that date, backwards to what needed to happen to make that possible. I found a resource and an a coach that could help me essentially, create and publish a book in 90 days. And pretty much every week, I hit my milestones. And then here we are with the book in my hand and getting in other people’s hands. So it started with this idea and and kind of a dream that I’ve had for a long time that I finally turned into a commitment in a way to create something that I hope is a resource that’s extremely helpful for engineers and technology professionals to become their best selves.
Aaron Moncur 03:52
Amazing. Three months is an impressively short amount of time to write the book. Tell me a little bit about that process. Like, what were your milestones? You mentioned weekly milestones, did you break it down day by day, week by week, month by month? How did you go about writing it?
Jeff Perry 04:07
Right. So I essentially broke it down from Hey, what stepping back to that the deadlines I needed to meet to create that. So to have it published in hand, I knew I needed to have it submitted I self published on Amazon, that was the plan from the beginning. But because that’s the largest distribution platform, and they allow you to essentially print on demand so you don’t have to carry inventory and stuff. So it’s super cool that way. But, you know, essentially needed to be submitted to them, like a couple of weeks before the day that I actually wanted to have it in hand so they could get reviewed and then I can get them shipped to me so I could take it to an event I was going to so that was kind of stepping back from there. Then from there. There’s all the all the things that needed to be taken care of that I didn’t know there are a lot of complexities to writing a book, even if you’re self publishing, that I was just completely unaware of, from ISBN numbers to getting a number from the Library of Congress and the details of, of cover design, and, and everything in between, it’s not just writing the words and then submitting it in and then typesetting, right, so like getting where the words and the images gonna be on the pages, a lot of details there, when I step back, so and I connected with an editor who’s going to help me turn my rough writing into something that was going to be a little prettier, and more readable. And so essentially, that first month, was me, writing my first record, a vomit draft of the book. And then the second month, was deep into editing, went through a couple of deep revisions, and got got a really close, and then started getting into the typesetting. And refining the images and everything, and my wife was actually super cool and design the cover in which we work together on that. And, and then we’re able to finally, finally put things together and submit it and, and you get some proof, some some sample prints along the way that see how it falls out and, and make some adjustments there. And so like, like any engineering project, so you got to get the get the prototype, you had the vision, the design, then you got to iterate through that and then test and, and get the data to see what needs to be changed. And then, you know, try and get to a final result, like, but also like any engineering project, there’s no such thing as perfect. So is his book perfect now, like I’m sure there’s plenty of things that even today, I probably change a couple of things, that’s totally cool. Like I wrote the best book that I could at the time. And if I write another book or write it from that place,
Aaron Moncur 06:57
did the book change at all? As you were writing it? Or did you pretty much have an exact idea from the start of what you wanted this book to be?
Jeff Perry 07:07
Yes. So when I, I’ve had multiple ideas for books over the years, and multiple times that I’ve actually outlined a book and said, this is kind of what I want a book to be about. And so to that degree, it changed a lot just over the years of me conceptualizing the idea of writing a book. But like the, the title of this one called the intentional engineer, the title once I kind of declared that that didn’t change. And, you know, Chapter structures, and some of the ways that I would describe things absolutely changed. I mean, an editor is going to take the red pen and mark it up pretty hard. And, and then she was extremely detail oriented and extremely helpful and supportive, while not trying to change my intent with the book, but to help me convey the ideas and is it effective as way as possible? So absolutely, it changed to that degree. But the purpose and and my intent around what I wanted this book to become, didn’t have a massive shift from when I declared that I wanted to write this.
Aaron Moncur 08:22
So let’s get into the purpose and the intent of the book. The title is the intentional engineer. So obviously, it’s for engineering professionals. What, what are engineers going to take away from from this book? And is it limited to engineers? Or are there other related professionals that would benefit from the book? Yeah,
Jeff Perry 08:43
so the subtitle of the intentional engineer is a guide to a Purpose Driven Life and career for engineers and technical professionals. So while yeah, we’re kind of talking primarily the engineers I’ve worked with and love working with engineering or technology adjacent folks. And so I think anyone in that realm, but I’ve had plenty of people in those spaces say, Well, really, also, these principles that we’re applying here, while I’m talking to engineers about them could be applied to anyone. So I found my niche with with engineers and technology professionals, but probably anyone could read the book, really, and get something out of it. I hope and so the intent here is like how do we be purpose driven? To find water intent is with our life and career because instead of just like a work life balance, actually shift that early in the book and say, first of all, why are we putting work first and letting life just fill in all the little gaps that show up after work? And second, I don’t really love that bow, like, at least in this context, balance as as a concept is fine, but in this concept, balance. I don’t love because it feels like a Um, you know, the idea of balance, is it static? Right? It’s unmoving. And life and career are always flowing. And, and it also feels like, hey, maybe they’re in opposition. So you think about like vectors, right? So vectors that are in opposing directions, you know, they’re going to oppose each other. So if I give anything else to work, then it’s going to take away from life of anything else to life, and it’s going to take away from work. But that feels like a zero sum game, when we think about it that way. So trying to shift from how do we actually move towards alignment? Right? So vectors to add to each other? Can my life support my me doing my best work in my professional life? Can my professional life support me, and the kind of life that I want to live in wherever you are, and whatever you do. And net, that is a much more empowering way to look at all of that. So sets, that’s kind of a, an early shift that we try and think about things and then we we go forward from there. And
Aaron Moncur 11:04
we should spend just a minute or two, for those who haven’t heard your previous episode, tell us a little bit about what it is you do high level outside of just the book. Yeah,
Jeff Perry 11:13
perfect. So I’m a I’m a leadership and career expert, primarily working with engineers and technology professionals. So I’ve worked with people from new grads to executive level engineering, and technology leaders to help unlock their potential. Like, I feel like we all get in this state, or situation or have a hard time seeing and believing in the value that we can bring to the world. And part of my role in this life. And kind of my purpose is I’ve defined it and I would say even just uncovered it, is to help people see that value that that they have and believe the truth rather than believing the limiting beliefs that might be holding them back from living out their greatest potential. And so we all struggle with that I’ve had plenty of struggles and still do. Like, it’s almost like I was talking to another friend and mentor yesterday, who says like, we’re all in this mountain that doesn’t have a top. Right, so we continue to make progress. But there’s not like this end destination we’re trying to get to. And we can also look back as we make progress and, and enjoy the beautiful view and how far we’ve come. Right. But but we’re never finished products, we’re always continuing to grow. And we’re all on this journey of becoming who we have the potential to become. And so that that’s a joy and an opportunity where the and that looks like opportunities, right get to work one on one with people to make big shifts in their career. So in ways that align with, you know, their life and the things that they care about, but also work with organizations and teams to improve the connection that they have with each other, which then improves and accelerates collaboration, innovation, and productivity. And the results as they get so unlocking engineers and technology professionals with them being their best selves. Also, it helps the individuals and everyone who’s involved to for them to feel more satisfied with life. But the hope then also is I believe that engineers and technology professionals have an a huge responsibility. Because as technology continues to progress, we are creating the technology and the infrastructure, and everything else that gets used by so many people we influence lives across the globe, with the work that we do. And so as doing great work has a huge impact on our society at large, and can save and improve lives. Not just ourselves, but for those that we’re creating things for with downstream effects. And so if we’re working in our best self, then what we create and innovate, will also impact the world. So it’s great. So I’ve
Aaron Moncur 14:00
heard you talk about alignment a few times now. Your life or your personal life being aligned with your professional life. Build a little bit more context around that what what does that mean? Do you have any, any examples that you can share?
Jeff Perry 14:15
Right, so here’s, here’s one, an example of one of the clients I tell her story a little bit in in the book. And I’ll change your name. I’ll Clark Kim. So Kim was a PhD level engineer who was having a hard time she was working she had been multidisciplinary, even throughout her PhD in some of the research that she’d done and then she got into kind of a boutique consulting firm. And there were a lot of things she liked about that but a lot of things she didn’t like working for a narcissistic boss which was an excellent and also where she lived, didn’t feel like that was the perfect spot for her either. On the side of her typical role as an engineer, she also really loved and got to enjoy doing some professional mountain biking. So she had sponsors. And on the weekend, she spent a lot of time doing that. But where she was, she was sort of far away from some of those things and can just get out and ride when she wanted to accept something that really filled her up. She also recognized through some of our working together, that this idea of really being satisfied and aligned in her work was really important to her more than she thought. And she realized why she realized that she was afraid of having a career that didn’t serve her like she saw her parents have, she grew up and noticed later as an adult, that both of her parents hated their jobs and careers, and then impacted her as you know, a child in that situation. And so now, we could say that they weren’t aligned in those things, because our work, we can’t just put our boxes, and I’m gonna put my work box and my family box and my community box and all those different things. We are that whole person, right, and it shows up everywhere. And then she also recognized and had some opportunities, where she really loved getting into high level stuff, she loves looking at the big level of the project, rather than just the minut details of the technology or the analysis that was happening. She loved the leadership, she loved bringing people together. And so all these realizations that she was starting to put together. And she was like, she realized that what she was doing now was not kind of bringing out her best skills, abilities and where she found fulfillment and joy, and also was able to do her best work. So we and but she didn’t know what that was yet, like what could do that. And so is through a lot of iteration exploration conversations, that she uncovered a type of role that she didn’t even know existed before. And eventually was technical program and project management in a really detailed tactical environment. So she could wear and put on those hats and then expertise that she had from the technical world. But also do that in a way that brought people together with that leadership realignment and got her to, to move to a place that had excellent mountain biking that she can enjoy. And, and has lower cost of living and she got a significant race.
Aaron Moncur 17:55
Wow, amazing. trifecta. Yeah, exactly. So
Jeff Perry 17:59
so all these things. And then I talked to her a little while later, and she’s gotten three raises, and she’s been there. So like, she’s just thriving, and amazing ways. And loving it. So but but finding some of those core things that drove her that she wasn’t aware of, or she was aware of, she didn’t really like, except it’s important enough to do something about what was a big deal. And that brought in some of this alignment for who she was, how she could do her best work, how her work could support that and also live and engage in the other passions and desires that she had. Now, that’s
Aaron Moncur 18:35
great. What are a few of the principles that you talked about in the book? And and what what are engineers or other technical professionals going to learn about these principles that they can apply to their lives and improve their careers and lives?
Jeff Perry 18:50
Yeah, so I mean, let’s just go to the to the title of the book, and kind of the key word is being intentional, right to be intentional, is a choice. Right? So kind of looking at where are you at in your career? Are you being are you, you know, have a model earlier in early in the book and chapter one, that it’s kind of like five different layers. You can think of it like a ladder, but it’s not like climbing a corporate ladder. It’s like, What level are you at right now, in your feeling and your experience around your career? So are you kind of are you out of work, which means your career isn’t really going anywhere right now. And you’re just, you know, you’re feeling passed over? Are you kind of just doing what you’re obligated to do maybe in a role that feels like you’re just surviving? Right? And that’s noble, right when you have to do that to do what you need to do for a time. But you also want to look and how can I level up again, the next level is kind of like being opportunistic. Right. And this is where I was, for a long time in my career, just hey, opportunities came my way. I’m like, Yeah, okay. It’s something new. I’ll try that. But it’s not like what I said, I want to go do and try. It’s, it’s like, hey, this opportunity came my way. And I’m just gonna use add in some of those things worked out. And some of those didn’t, that’s fine. And I learned from those. Right? But but you’re kind of in this stage I can being paid. Okay, you know, engineers generally get paid reasonably well. But it may be not quite aligned. And so you’re kind of disengaged in that work, and certainly not thriving. Right. So the tipping point is this, to get to that next level is to be intentional, or intentional, we get to purposeful growth, where we say this is who I’m becoming. And I’m growing in these areas, that’s the skills, the abilities that and the person that you’re trying to become, in, in your life in your career. And then that can lead us to kind of the, the, the top level, I’m trying to call life’s work. And it’s to be, and it really is, you know, where it goes beyond ourselves, and, and we’re able to impact other people through our leadership or other in other influence and things that we get to do beyond just us being satisfied where we’re kind of spreading that, that love and success. And so it’s kind of allows us to look at where we’re at and say, Do we matter where you are? And now how can you move forward with intention? Here, there’s a lot of, there’s two whole chapters on the process of identifying and shifting our mindsets, because our mindsets, who we what we believe about ourselves, like the operating system inside of our, of our minds and our bodies, that it are the lens through which we see the world, right. And so if an opportunity comes or a situation comes or a challenge comes, if my mindsets wrong, it’s going to distort how I move forward with that, right. And so how we shift that and accept what’s true about ourselves, and more power and empower in an empowering way, that allows us to move forward with with purpose and intention and, and confidence that can help us not just change what we do, right? It’s not just like this specific action we do, but how we do it, and how we show up in the world has a huge impact on the results that we’re gonna get. Right? Instead of saying, Hey, I might, I’m an engineer, and I need to like gain these skills. Let’s not just focus only on the actions or behaviors, we need to do differently, but change who we are. And that’s kind of the mindset piece.
Aaron Moncur 22:44
I would love if you would talk for a minute or two about how you go about identifying and then changing for the better mindset.
Jeff Perry 22:53
Yeah, good. So number things that we can do, like there are some excellent mindset assessments that I feel like can be quite helpful. And one of the things about taking a mindset assessment is different than a lot of times we might have experienced with taking vocational or personality assessments that sometimes are very prescriptive and say, This is who you are. And this is who you’re always going to be, wants to look at mindsets as a as a gradient, there’s always changing and moving. Right? And so if you take an assessment, it’s just a snapshot, a moment in time with how you answer those questions that day. And so we just look at what are the the lenses? We’re seeing things? And are we really seeing the realities of the situation? So just to give an example here, so I tell this story about one of my clients, Susan, who had been, you know, to make people and COVID and corresponding years and tech layoffs and other things, she was laid off. Right. And she’d been with a company for 10 years. She’d been growing and had multiple promotions and things and been quite successful. And then it felt like, Hey, I was all gone. Like, what, what the heck am I gonna do? And so, a negative mindset might say, Hey, I just got canned. And that that situation tells me that I’m not worth being employed. I don’t have value to bring because they didn’t want to keep me around. Right? They kept other people not me. Right. When you start believing those sorts of things, how does that change how you show up? Right? How does that color any conversations that you have? How does that help you? To get out of bed to take on the next day and try and reach out to the next person to find a new opportunity that’s going to be better suited. All so in this time, she had a pet that she cared about that died and she had to put down and, and all sorts of things. And she, you know, so she could have wallowed in that pretty hard. And I’m not saying like, we shouldn’t take time to grieve and all that stuff, right. But she told me and I didn’t shift any of this for her, she told me, Hey, I recognize that I have a choice. That’s how I’m going to move through this experience. And I’m grateful that I have people around me, she was using me as a as a mentor and a coach at that time. And I see that I have a lot of things in place to help me move forward here. And I’m going to step forward with that, like, so she was acting from a place of power and an opportunity, rather than a place of being a victim. And, and powerlessness, which we can sometimes get into. I don’t know naming any specific mindsets here, which I do in the book. But there’s just an example of a person who made the choice to believe things that were going to empower her to take different actions, instead of believing, and taking on mindsets that were going to drain her. And that and not not be helpful. So those mindsets and those beliefs are huge fuel for how we show up in the world. And that’s just one example. Which
Aaron Moncur 26:39
is really hard sometimes, right? I mean, I know totally personal experience, that I don’t always feel like being positive, sometimes. It’s paradoxical, because logically, I know, I should have a positive outlook on life, that that’s going to give me my best results. But there are times when I feel down and defeated. And I almost want to wallow in that, you know, there’s almost this sick pleasure in woe is me, the world is against me. So, kudos to her for recognizing that she had that choice and having the self control or the power the capacity to to act on it. How about for individuals that they just can’t get there on their own? Are there any tools that you can suggest to, to help those individuals, you know, kind of pull themselves out of the muck?
Jeff Perry 27:37
Yeah. So and what I’m not suggesting here, Aaron is just like toxic positivity, like, hey, just just, you know, sunshine and rainbows think that everything’s happy and well, and like to know if it’s gonna go right, it’ll just smile, like, you know, that’s not helpful either like to just put on a facade and pretend that everything’s fine when it’s not, right. But there’s a difference between allowing those emotions and the truth of what we’re actually feeling to be experienced, to really indulging in them, or even just resisting them, right, like those aren’t, those approaches aren’t helpful. So Aaron, if you don’t mind me doing this? Can we get a little bit more personal? Absolutely. We’re talking about dealing on the ground with Dragos here. So tell me about a time when you’ve been in that space where like, hey, just digging into that mark, like that kind of feels good. Like, you know, I just want to stay here, this is comfortable instead of trying to, to break through that.
Aaron Moncur 28:39
Jeff Perry 28:40
maybe something that you’re experiencing a little bit right now?
Aaron Moncur 28:42
Absolutely. So one of the biggest struggles I have at work, I think this is true for most small business owners, is just feeding the machine, you know, getting enough work to come in to keep everyone busy, and keep the business thriving. And in general, we’ve been around for 14 years now we’ve we’ve been profitable every year, and we’ve grown every year. So things have actually gone pretty well. Nevertheless, there are times when things slow down a bit. And I started thinking to myself, Oh, geez, what’s going to happen next month? How am I going to keep the team busy? Are we going to have enough work? What if things really get slow? And my mind just spirals? Right? It just goes down into these dark places. Oh, what if? What if I have to let people go and what if what if this and what if that? And I mean, it goes all the way down to oh, I’ll go bankrupt, you know, just kind of crazy places, right? But my mind will go there sometimes. And sometimes it can take a little while for myself to pull out of that space.
Jeff Perry 29:46
Yeah. So when you’re in that space, you’re you’re thinking about and the fears and the what if situations of these potentially catastrophic or in your mind, catastrophic experiences or situations sort of start to spiral? But what are you believing about yourself as the leader of that? You know, what are some of those like, beliefs that you feel like you’re having about you? In that moment?
Aaron Moncur 30:15
One thing I have realized, as I have moved into the role of business owner and leader and not engineer, and at the beginning of the business, I was the engineer, right? I was the business owner, and I was the engineer, I would argue I wasn’t so much the business owner, I was much more the engineer, I was doing the stuff, right. And as the years have gone by, I’ve moved out of that role. And now I’m the business owner, I’m the leader, I focus on mostly non engineering things at this point. And I realized that, you know, my engineering skills are not what they used to be. I can pick up CAD and still drive CAD. But where was that button? And how do I create that one feature? You know, I’ve forgotten some of those things that were just second nature to me in the past. And part of my identity, I think, was based on being a really good designer, engineer. And I’ve lost some of that. So when my Martin, when my mind goes to these, admittedly kind of ludicrous dark places, I’ll think, shoot, if if, if I were to lose anything, what would I do? I don’t have the skills I used to have as an engineer. And, of course, I realized I have new skills now that are valuable and marketable. But I, yeah, I go to kind of a dark place like, then I worry about it. And that’s where I go. Yeah.
Jeff Perry 31:44
So you start wondering like, Do I really have value to give like, I’m a great engineer, or that was your identity before, but I’m not a great leader? And who am I to put these people in this situation? And totally, yeah, there’s impostor syndrome and put them in this. And, you know, they’re trusting me, but why are they trusting me and all this stuff? And it doesn’t take two, you don’t have to think too hard to think, like, do those thoughts and those feelings and those beliefs about yourselves? Do they serve you at all? Now? Thirdly, do they help you in any way?
Aaron Moncur 32:18
Yeah. So that this that’s, that’s I think my point is, I fully recognize they don’t, and there are times when I’ll lie in bed at night, right? Just going over things in my mind, okay, we have to do this, we have to do that. And, and I recognize in the moment, I should be sleeping right now. I should be resting my body and my brain, and thinking through all these different things that need to happen. Maybe they’re not even like worries or concerns. They’re just things that need to happen. That’s not useful for me right now. What’s, what would be most beneficial for me right now is going to sleep. But I still have a hard time pulling myself out of there and doing the thing that I know is best for me. But don’t always do it. Yeah.
Jeff Perry 33:02
And you said a word that I love is like, is it useful? Like, recognize what’s useful and what’s not useful? That’s a fabulous realization. And I think if we just reflect on that for a second, if we’re feeling a belief about ourselves, we can recognize is this useful? Or is it not? So that’s that’s kind of the first step is awareness, right? And I, you have a model in the book that kind of moves from unconscious incompetence. So we are unaware of what’s wrong, right? And how we’re not serving ourselves to getting to the next layer is to conscious incompetence. So now I’m aware, this painful, but I’m at least aware of what’s wrong and what’s going on as we move through this shift. So then what for you as so you identify, hey, this isn’t helpful. I recognize this isn’t being useful. What has then helped you to? I mean, what what we’re really trying to do here is to shift from these are the things that I’m actually believing in ourselves that I don’t have this value to bring, like, who am I and all that stuff that isn’t serving us to actually identifying what’s actually true? Because those things that you believe about yourself aren’t true. They’re unhelpful. And they’re not true. Right? Yeah. So So what’s actually true about you, Aaron,
Aaron Moncur 34:26
I would say it’s not so much believing that I don’t have the value. It’s I feel I feel stress. I think that dealing with stress has been a challenge for me for a long time, and I’ve gotten better about it. And one thing that I have learned is that stress is like the body’s notification system, that there’s a problem and it needs to be solved. And that’s all it is. And you can internalize that stress as like, I feel anxious. I feel nervous, I feel scared and just sit with that as a problem. Or you can recognize that my body is notifying me that there is an issue. And you need to figure it out. And once I step back and look at it like that, and I start breaking it down, right, my engineering brain, this is what engineers do. Okay, here’s the problem, what needs to happen to resolve this problem and go through a few steps and identify some actions I can take, I always feel better. Once I’ve identified some actions and actually start taking action. I always feel better. So the whole stress thing, it’s, it’s tempting, not tempting, that’s not the right word. It can be easy to fall into the trap of just sitting with those feelings and feeling the stress and not doing anything about it. But recognizing that it’s a notification, it’s your body’s alarm system, hey, this thing is going on, you need to you need to figure it out, you need to deal with it, and then take an action. That’s been a big help for me.
Jeff Perry 35:59
Yeah, so that’s awesome. So you’re not just suppressing like, hey, like, this feeling is bad. I’m just gonna pretend like it’s not there. You’re allowing it saying, Hey, Bobby, thank you for letting me know that something’s going on. Right? You’re allowing that to happen. But you’re not just sitting there and indulging in that, right. And so we move from this stage of awareness of it to start being consciously like taking that conscious action to saying, What can I do about this, and one of the one of the models of the ways to move through this shift, and and you’re, you’ve been doing this is you take that action, and then you’re kind of aware of like, Hey, did that thing that I was fearing actually happen? Did all those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that I was afraid of, actually happened when I took this thing that was feeling fearful or stressful before. And so it’s kind of almost like, we have these assumptions, these driving assumptions that aren’t usually true in our minds. And so it’s kind of like using the scientific method, we say, Okay, I have this assumption that if I do this, then this is going to happen. But usually that then that’s going to happen is something that we feel like is going to be quite, quite bad. Whatever, right. But we take action against that. And so that’s sort of our hypothesis. In the scientific method, we run an experiment that says we take action anyway. And then we collect the data and say, what actually happens? Well, if that if that thing that I feared didn’t actually happen, which you haven’t gone bankrupt, you haven’t had to lay a bunch of people off your business has continued to grow, as you continue to take the right steps and just do what you can do as you move forward, then, then that belief, or that assumption that I had, isn’t actually valid, and it starts to lose its power on us, day by day, step by step, moment by moment, action by action that we take. And then eventually, because what essentially we’re doing in our minds and our bodies, is we’re building neural connections. Right? So neurobiologist would say like neurons that fire together wire together, so we’re trying to wire and build the neural Serb super highways, in our minds to support the more positive things and over time, as we do that, are literally rewiring our brain and we move from that state of from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, we start doing that consciously taking the steps, we get to conscious competence if we still have to really think about it. But we’re getting better and we’re making progress. Eventually, it becomes more of our natural state of being and we get to unconscious competence. Over time, as we shift that mindset, and those please, the
Aaron Moncur 38:55
whole rewiring of your brain, I think, is a huge point. And this is not some woowoo stuff where you’re just like talking to yourself. And that really does happen. This is this is physiology and biology, right. I want to go back to the point that we were talking about, which was hold on after remember what it was now. paranoia, we talked a little bit about being paranoid that this is going to happen, that’s going to happen. And I do find that my mind me personally, does tend to go to the worst place right away. And sometimes I pull myself out quickly. And other times I don’t, Jim Collins, the business author, Good to Great and several other great books. He talks about the concept of productive paranoia. So I don’t think that being paranoid is necessarily a bad thing, as long as you can use it to your advantage, which I’ll be the first to admit I’m still a work in progress. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. But but the practice of rewiring one’s brain, right? I find that when I I do fall into those dark places, I am getting better at recognizing it and stopping and saying, okay, use this as a trigger to put myself into a better headspace. And the more I can do that, the better I get at, well, a pulling myself out of those dark places, but be not not going there to begin with.
Jeff Perry 40:19
Yeah, totally. And, and sometimes we can do that on our own. But a lot of times, and maybe this is true in your experience, but it is for me, I need other people to help me through some of that, right? Yeah. So you probably, as a leader, get to help and kind of impress your confidence and other people, and kind of help them see that when they don’t see that in themselves. Right. But also people, you probably have people in your life, whether that’s co workers, mentors, spouse, or family members, someone who does that for you, and believes in you, and kind of helps you reconnect to what’s true about you and what and that gets you more in that empowering state when you have a hard time doing that for yourself. Absolutely. Yeah, totally. And I see that in so many conversations. And I just had a couple earlier today, where people are just in some tough spots with where they’re at in their career, and they’ve been laid off. And it’s been months and the financial runway is running out. And that just like, and all this weight of everything that’s going on, is just weighing heavily on them. Right. And so how they operate from the moment, they wake up through the day, and like, it’s just the energy isn’t there. But they’re, they’re buying into these negative beliefs about themselves that are not serving them. And so when they do get the opportunity to talk to other people, and things, they’re not really stepping into the confidence about who they are, and so people don’t get that opportunity right now, to see their true selves. Right. And so finding, sometimes we need to look back for evidence, as well as those that like, say, This is who I really am. And it’s not digging into like prideful, like, Hey, I deserve like, I’m this wonderful person who everyone should love and adore. Right, but it’s just sort of stepping into this is who I really am. And I have a lot of value to bring. And if I’m in my career, and I’m asking for a raise, or I’m trying to get a job, and I’m in a job interview, or I want to try new business, or whatever that is that is in your intention, right and what you’re trying to accomplish, then stepping into that confidence that this is who you are, and the value you have to bring allows the right people to see that instead of seeing that kind of less empowered version of you. What
Aaron Moncur 43:02
are some really tactical steps from the book or from your coaching in general, that people can take engineers, technology professionals to identify what what is the core of me, you know, what do I really want to be doing? Yeah,
Jeff Perry 43:20
so one of the chapters is about a principle, it’s called the genius zone. And kind of identifying those areas that are unique to you. And where you’re kind of do your best work. In genius sounds like anything else also, like adapt and grow over time as you have different experiences. But there’s two primary ways that I’ve found that we can identify them. And what we’re trying to do is harness these genius zones. So we because when we’re operating from them, we really enjoy it. So it increases satisfaction, but we also deliver more impact in what we do. So two primary ways that I found to be helpful is and one is to identify moments and activities and situations where we find ourselves in a state of flow. Okay, flow was originally coined by the researcher, if I pronounced his name right, me Holly chick sent me Holly. He’s passed away recently, but written a few books on the subject and, and a ton of business books have referenced him, mine included. And this the state of flow is if you think about it, unlike an XY graph, okay, it’s this balance of on one axis, it’s the challenge of the situation you’re facing with your ability or capability or skills to meet that challenge and when those things are aligned, right when your ability but it’s a high enough challenge that is also engaging, so you’re not just bored, but if the challenge is too high and your abilities aren’t there, then you can kind of get going to get anxious Right. And so looking at, okay, if I’m bored, I need to increase the challenge, I’m anxious, I need to increase my capability and looking for those opportunities to get in flow. And what is it about that what activities experiences, like you almost lose track of time, when you’re and you’re just getting in that state. And so engineering designers can like, get in that kind of flow state. Sometimes I do it when I’m in a coaching session, I sort of lose track of time, because I’m just really with the person that I’m with or training or whatever. Another way to kind of identify and unlock some of these genius sounds, is to look for combinations of skills, innate talents that you might have experiences you have that have sort of created who you are over time. Right. And when you it’s almost like putting together a Venn diagram. And when you look at, okay, I’ve developed these sorts of skills, that’s interesting. I’ve had these experiences that have shaped who I am. And these are things that I’ve just sort of always been able to do. And then I’ve always been interested in, you know, we just wired all differently when we, when we are born. When you put those combinations together, we can usually kind of get that intersection and kind of a Venn diagram of what you need to you. And you can use that in a couple of ways. Again, first of all, you can say, this is what I’m going to do. But then also you can kind of build that into how you communicate your best skills and the value that you bring to a potential employer, or if you’re a business owner to, you know, clients or other things, right. So you can use that in big ways. And so just one example of like, one of my clients is an experienced, he’s in the software engineering field, experienced software engineering leader, worked on cloud development data, and building systems, in software, with his teams that could be very repeatable. He also had a lot of experience and leadership and empowering his teams. And, and he also really loved where he had the opportunities to bring cross functional groups together, he could get interest in the marketing and the product folks that not just in the technical side, he could, he could see all of that, and he could bring people together to align on what needed to be accomplished. That combination of all these different things, was something that he could then express as a genius zone, and bring that out, but be for that all he was looking as these these skills and abilities in isolation, to just check some boxes. But now he could see that that combination really was something that that he could leverage in a bigger way and landed him a new leadership opportunity that basically doubled his salary
Aaron Moncur 47:59
was amazing. Terrific. I like your term genius zone. I I’ve heard that referred to as unique ability as well by Dan Sullivan. Strategic
Jeff Perry 48:07
Colvin says unique ability genius zone comes from Gay Hendricks, kind of like genius zone. But but but they’re the same, the same thing. He
Aaron Moncur 48:17
said, Yeah. Something I’ve done. And I’ve had my team do to identify that that genius zone is, this is a really tactical thing that anyone else can do out there. Super simple, free. Keep track of what you’re doing every single day for a week, or maybe even two weeks, and just write everything you’re down. Just put a spreadsheet out there write down well, this hour, I worked on this thing, these two hours, I did this thing. And keep track of it every day for a couple of weeks. And then next to each of those rows. Put a number 1234 for being you’re in that state of flow. You love it, you’re good at it. One being I hate this, I’m not good at it. Two and three are like, I like this, but I’m not good at it. Or I’m not good at this, but are the other one, I don’t like this one. I’m good at it. Anyway, for being the one that you’re really looking for. That’s your state of flow, your genius zone. And then go after a couple of weeks, go back and look at it and look at all the fours the rows that are fours, right and see if you can identify a pattern. What was it about those activities that put me into that state of flow? And that’s a great way I found to identify the things that you really love doing?
Jeff Perry 49:25
Absolutely, that it’s a fabulous exercise. Not in the book. But I I’ve given my stamp of approval for that sale.
Aaron Moncur 49:32
Right Jeff Perry stamp of approval. You heard it here first, folks? Yes. All right. Well, Jeff, what else should should people know about the book?
Jeff Perry 49:43
Yeah, so if you want to go get a book, get the book, then go grab it on Amazon or you can find more information at the intentional engineer.com. The other cool thing that I created a long with the main book is a corresponding workbook that A PDF that’s they can grab the PDF free or there is a printable version they can grab on Amazon as well, intentional engineer workbook, and it correlates with the book that’s, you know. So again, take the exercises, the idea is every, every chapter has reflection questions and activities for you to do to take intentional action, instead of just like, hey, I’m just, you know, reading these ideas, but like, what are you going to do with that, I invite action at every chapter. And the workbook helps you to do that and provide space where if you’d like to type or if you want to print them out and write it down, like what however you work best, so you can take the ideas, put them into action, and get get clarity and, and move forward with with these ideas. So I’m trying to give you the tools to go take and put these into practice in your life and career. Terrific.
Aaron Moncur 50:51
And people can just go to Amazon to find that book.
Jeff Perry 50:55
Yep, go to Amazon. And or I think again, if it’s easier to find the intentional engineer.com
Aaron Moncur 51:01
Perfect, all right. Well, Jeff, thank you so much. Appreciate you being on the show. Again, it’s sharing all of your insight and wisdom and experience. And I bet a lot of people are going to enjoy this episode and and your book, including me is basically therapy for me today. So Thanks, Jeff. Good.
Jeff Perry 51:20
Thank you, Aaron, really appreciate knowing you and being with you again.
Aaron Moncur 51:28
I am Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at Team pipeline.us. Thanks for listening
About Being An Engineer
The Being An Engineer podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people resources, and opportunities. We feature successful mechanical engineers and interview engineers who are passionate about their work and who made a great impact on the engineering community.
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