Unnoticed Improvement


I ripped my rotator cuff playing racquetball. It’s a small tear, no surgery needed. I did it back in March. It took me a while to get to physical therapy for it for a lot of reasons that aren’t important, but mostly relate to my being stubborn and still thinking I’m invincible with Wolverine-like healing powers. So, long story short, I’ve been in PT for about 5 weeks.

Yesterday, my physical therapist asked me if my shoulder was getting better. I of course said, “no, not really. Well, maybe a little”.

Then she did the measurements of my range of motion. And in fact, my shoulder is a lot better. It still has a long way to go, but it is much improved. And I hadn’t noticed.

I hadn’t noticed because I use it every day. I don’t give it a lot of thought. It’s just a part of my existence. The same way you never noticed getting taller until you saw that relative you only see twice a year, and they couldn’t stop exclaiming how much taller you had gotten. You look at yourself in the mirror the same every day, pull on your pants the same way every day, so those microns and millimeters never had much impact on your perception. But that doesn’t change the fact that you had gotten significantly taller.

Weight loss is the same way. I could go on…

The point is, change happens slowly. You don’t notice that you are becoming a better coder, a better tester, a better coach, a better team, whatever. You don’t notice the improvements that have taken place. And so it’s easy to say, “this %$#@ place, it’s no better today than it was a year ago”. And in fact, you’d be completely wrong. It is better (and probably worse in other ways, such is life). You just never took the time to notice. There is no crazy aunt that shows up one day and says “wow, look how you’ve grown”.

So, take a few minutes. Maybe once a sprint, once a month, once a quarter. Whatever timeframe works for you. And reflect on how you’ve improved. How your team has improved. Do it with your team – you’ll probably find it to be a fun positive feedback loop. Enjoy the successes.


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