On DLT’s ContinuousX Podcast Series we finish each episode by asking the guests, “if you could choose to have anything continuously, what would it be?” But we have never asked the questions of ourselves. For me, the question seems like a, “be careful what you wish for,” situation, but I would answer, “continuous fun.”
But what is “fun?”
Raph Koster in his work, “A Theory of Fun for Game Design,” posits that a game is “fun” when the player learns a skill and is able to express its mastery. Conversely, a game ceases to be fun when the player stops learning, either because there is nothing left to learn, or the game’s lessons become too hard or seem pointless.
And if, at some level, games are an abstraction of life meant to teach us life lessons, then I believe Raph’s theory also applies to the macro level. Life is “fun” when we learn, can express our mastery of it, and when it’s not too hard or lacks meaning.
For example, take Milton Bradley’s board game, “The Game of Life.” This is the game with little plastic cars and blue or pink pegs for people, 3D mountains, and a large spinner in the middle; ages 8 and up. As a child, I had fun playing this game until I learned that whoever randomly lands on the best salary at the start of the game, barring any other string of bad luck, will eventually win. Which is arguably the desired life lesson to impart from a parent’s point of view; go to college and get a good salary kid!
With nothing left to learn and the rest of the board mostly inconsequential, it ceased to be fun. My apologies if I just ruined the game for you.
Having learned this life lesson, I attended college – however by my last year, I was ready to leave. Oh, I had a fun time learning, and not just from classes – but years of assignments and exams and paying exorbitantly for the privilege to endure them had grown tiresome. At college, I could have always learned more, and it wasn’t too hard or irrelevant, but I was ready to show my mastery in the “real world” outside of academia.
The same pattern emerged in my career. Jobs have started out fun, learning the ins and outs of a new company and their systems, but by the 100th repetition of a weekly report, some of the enjoyment was diminished. Jobs have also lost their joy by demanding too much time away from home or by repeating the same crisis patterns without addressing the underlying issues. But the sweet spot for me has been when I learned new skills and applied them to fix these issues or to build new solutions.
That is why I believe fostering a continuous learning practice is an essential element to any DevSecOps program. Yes, there’s the fear, uncertainty, and doubt in technology moving very fast and digital disruption upsetting everything we are doing, and that needs to be addressed. And expanding your knowledge can increase your marketable value and get you a promotion or advance your career. But more importantly, it is fun to have insights into the latest technologies and practices that address these issues and delightful when you can readily present solutions to these problems when they emerge.
Luckily, there are entire industries, podcasts, and websites devoted to DevSecOps education and discussions, not unlike the site you are on now. Every product you use in your day-to-day career likely has training workshops, webinars, or courses that will teach you something relevant and new. And don’t stop with those – look at competing products to see if they can do anything better. Attend a presentation about a product you’ve never heard of before. Even playing games or reading a theory on game design may prove relevant to your career someday.
So, if you want more fun or continuous fun, always be learning. Expressing mastery over the same set of knowledge loses meaning and ceases to be fun. Plus, life’s playing field is always changing, so don’t let it get too hard to master by not staying on top of the latest trends and information. Learn new things and look for ways to apply that knowledge to make it meaningful. It’s a fun thing to do.