Everyone that is successful in their discipline and is prepared to tell their story, we can probably learn lessons from. Particularly if they are someone who’s really driven toward certain goals.
With Arnold Schwarzenegger, you’ve got the benefit that he has had multiple careers or multiple things that he has done throughout his life, and each one of them he has had to work for and practise hard to achieve.
I read Arnold Schwarzenegger Autobiography “Total Recall” and I made some notes, and I’m going to turn these into applied notes for learning how to improve our testing.
Start with EmulationTo start, Schwarzenegger read lots of muscle magazines and identified body builders that he wanted to emulate.
Because, when we start out, we have no idea what is possible. What we have to do, I guess, is read as many books as we can, take those as a “this is what can be achieved,” baseline, but also people who make their work public:
- people who write blogs,
- people who talk at conferences,
- people you see on YouTube.
You have to look at :
- what they’ve done,
- the results they’ve achieved
Essentially, they worked at it; you could work at it and achieve the same results.
The lesson here is we have to use our work environment, whatever work environment we’ve got, as a way of learning, use it for the skills and experience and not just the money. If you only do this work for the money, you’re not going to advance. You might get lucky. You could advance and get money (then you are really lucky).
But focus on the advancement part so that, even when your job sucks to high heaven, you’re pulling as much value from that as humanly possible to advance.
I don’t have a training partner, so I compensate with strategies:
- I read lots of blogs,
- I find people to emulate,
- I try and reverse engineer what they do
- I make lists.
- I make lists of things I have to learn,
- things I don’t understand,
- technology I don’t understand.
And long-term, I have a list that I continue to build and work against because I don’t have a training partner, so I have to have strategies that supplement that learning and push me going forward.
I don’t know if it’s effective or not, but that’s what I do. I have a list of things to study.
He did not train. He under prepared. And he made excuses for it. And he lost.
A lesson he took from that was that he was never going to lose because he didn’t prepare hard enough. You can always train. Even if you are not working, you can be studying or preparing. Even if you are travelling in hotels, you can still be reading blogs, you can be using your phone, you can always be prepared, you can always be pushing forward.
He was never knowingly, going to be not at the top of his game. Underpreparation was not going to happen.
We can do that as well:
- We have to be ready for, in general terms, testing.
- We have to be ready for the environment we’re in:
- so focus in on the technologies that they’re using,
- the techniques,
- the processes,
- the tools.
If it’s custom for you, then it doesn’t have to be pretty. It can be big and horrible, so long as it is functional and as long as it works.
We can do very minor things to make it work. It’s one of the things we cover on the Java Testers Blog, how to build little tools out of our
@Testmethods to create minimal tools that do what you need.
We don’t necessarily have to compete with other testers in order to beat them, but we can see examples of what people are doing.
Each time they did an experiment, they would analyse it to see which part of their body hurt most, what results did they get, and they would keep lots and lots of notes. Those notes eventually turned into a book; his Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, but essentially it was a reflective process of doing experiments and taking notes.
Not all of you are going to read Schwarzenegger’s biography. Not all of you are going to go and read “The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe”. We are going to do different things. You’ve got different interests, different areas of expertise, and that’s what makes us unique. We can pull that information into our test process to make it individual for us.
If you only take the path other people are taking, chances are you won’t even get the results that they did, when they followed that path, because they did other things they didn’t tell you about.
It’s important to build your own path to become a better tester.
And choosing your own path is what Arnold Schwarzenegger did, and that’s how he managed to get to the top.
- Reps, reps, reps.
The question is:
- Are we doing enough repetition with our practising?
- Are you using the tools?
- When you come back to a tool and you haven’t used it, do you forget?
If you’re looking at HTTP messages going back and forth between the system and you forget what the message means, you haven’t put the reps in to learn it.
These are all hints as to where we need to focus because they are weaknesses.
We’ve got Google, we can look things up, and your Google-Fu can be improved to get better, but, fundamentally, we want to do as many reps as possible to get as good as possible.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger (A.S.) read muscle magazines and identified body builders that he wanted to emulate
- use the people who make their work public as targets for emulation and take the steps necessary to achieve the same results that they describe publicly.
- A.S. targeted the tank division for his Austrian military Service so he could learn expensive driving skills - motorcycle, car, truck, etc.
- use your work for skill and experience advancement as much as possible, not just money
- A.S. jobs in a gym didn’t leave much time for long periods of intense training, so he trained differently, small sessions before, after work, and lunchtime
- keep training, commit time outside work to advance and practice,
- deliberately focus your practice on areas that are weak
- A.S. attributes his success to working with of a training partner
- I have no training partner: I review blogs for ‘things I need to learn’ and decide if I want to try and emulate what that person is doing. I use strategies to allow myself to be my own training partner. I keep notes, I review them, I write down objectives, I create list of ‘things to study’. I don’t know if that is as effective, but its what I do.
- A.S. had some issues prior to a competition and lost, he resolved never to under-prepare “From now on, if I lost, I would be able to walk away with a big smile because I had done everything I could to prepare.”
- keep studying, practicing, etc. And when you know more about a particular environment or role, then double down on the techniques, technologies, skills etc. related to that environment. Be prepared.
- A.S. describes Joe Gold as someone who builds the gym machines he needed.
- if you need tool support, and no tool does what you need, create simple tools which fit the gap
- A.S. describes competing and that he was still targeting specific body builders, but now, not to achieve the same results, instead to beat them, but he knew he needed to improve, and we worked hard on improving
- objectively analyse your test approach and skills, identify where you are weak, and take the steps to improve
- A.S. describes situation with Reg Park where he learned that the results achieved were due to a massively different training routine that he was using, or even considered possible. A.S. was training a muscle group three times a week. Reg Park was training every day “with a mind blowing amount of weight”. And this meant creating new training exercises.
- public results are one thing, but if you aren’t achieving those results, you need to change your training approach, and sometimes what you think is not possible, is well within reach.
- A.S. describes working from first principles to create new exercises and variations: “we would choose an unfamiliar exercise and each do sets and reps until we couldn’t do any more. Then we’d analyze the next day which muscles and sections of muscles were sore, and note it down. Working this way, we spent an entire year making a systematic survey of our bodies and building an inventory of hundreds of exercises and techniques.”
- have you done this? I haven’t come close to this level of reflection and analysis yet. Time to figure out how to start.
- A.S “A key discovery we made was that you can’t just copy someone else’s routine, because everyone’s body is different… You can take an idea from another athlete, but you have to understand that your body may respond very differently”
- experiment and make your training and development routine your own. Find system categories you like to test. Create your own exercises and experiments.
- A.S. throughout the book attributes proficiency to “reps, reps, reps”
- if you forget how to use a function in a tool, you haven’t done enough reps, if you forget how to apply a technique - more reps. Reps, reps, reps.
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