So the idea for this next blog post came after questions from one of my colleagues was posed to me during the last lunch @ work before the month of Ramadan commenced. Some quick background for those who don’t know, Ramadan is the Holy month in the Islamic calendar where fasting is observed for an entire month, from sunrise to sunset-daily.
So back to my colleagues questions, he posed a few questions to me regarding why fasting is observed? what benefits do we attain? why are we encouraged to give charity during this month? This then sparked many discussions but it also helped me understand many attributes or lessons I have learnt over the years from fasting that helped me apply to my testing career. I am sure the month of Ramadan and fasting in particular has many individual benefits to each person in many different ways, I have applied many of its benefits and virtues to other areas of my life, but below I highlight some key factors that fasting taught me which I used to shape my testing career.
Dedication, discipline, focus and persistence
Fasting requires a lot of dedication and discipline. It requires abstaining from food and water (from sunrise to sunset), it also encourages one to restrain from bad or sinful speech amongst many other things. This highlights the focus one has to have and also the persistence to get through the day and then the entire month.
These qualities have been applied to my testing career as well, more so the last aspect of persistence which is a key factor in the Software testing world. I recall over my 15 years of my testing experience, I was given many opportunities to change my career path- from the possibility of becoming a Business Analyst, a Developer or even a Scrum Master. However I turned these roles down to focus on Testing, I did try out being a Scrum Master for +-6months at some point but the lure, passion and my dedication to Software Testing just brought me back to the field. Check out Wait how did I get here? Time for reflection (part 1). , in that post I highlight these points. Stick to what you believe and you will be fine
Persistence is a nice quality to have as a tester, pushing hard to get a bug resolved or pushing the levels of quality to software is a key element in this field.
Fasting teaches one to be patient, I re-call growing up as a kid and a teen constantly watching that clock ever so frequently, waiting for the time to sunset before one can enjoy the delicacies prepared that evening. It teaches one to have the will-power to get through the day, the endurance of the night prayer after a long day of fasting and the entire month.
Looking back over my testing career thus far that’s exactly how I approached it, I also advise junior testers to take this patient approach. One can be overwhelmed with all the insane amount of different technologies available nowadays – there are tons of programming languages, tons of tools, tons of approaches, frameworks etc. There are so many different industries one can work in, each having its own challenges, do you focus on business, people or tech objectives? I’m sure you will agree that can be overwhelming indeed. If you take it step by step and set yourself regular objectives you can achieve key aspects in manageable chunks. Set yourself a daily goal, a weekly goals, monthly and yearly goals! Doing it all at once can confuse you and mess up what you are trying to achieve.
My current company encourages annual objectives setting, I recall over the years that I have been employed with them – some of my main objectives included: 1 year I would have a business focus in that I would try to learn as much as possible from business users, then there were other years like the current one where I change my focus to everything Tech. Researching and playing around with Docker, Kubernetes, AI and everything new in the Tech world. A tester and more so a ‘modern tester’ needs an armoury of different skills to succeed in this ever changing landscape. Be patient and take it step-by-step!
Punctuality and Time Management
Another lesson I learnt from fasting is how it had got me on track by following a specific routine and being punctual. We have to get up at a certain time to eat (before sunrise), eating a minute after sunrise and this could nullify your fast, performing prayers at a specific time, then breaking your fast at a specific time. Everything had order and an allocated time.
Well in testing and in almost every career being punctual is key, managing your time and what you do in your job is key. Over my career I try to never be late for a meeting, I always try to schedule things well in advance too. With regards to testing, this can help you prioritise and schedule your testing. If you are doing different things as your tester job function for example running performance tests and functional automation, then set aside time to schedule when you do these. It helps clear the noise when panic and pandemonium sets in which i’m sure you all can relate to. Test Co-ordination and test scheduling is something that comes to mind here. Add order to your day by being punctual and managing what you do, when !
During Ramadan one is encouraged to give more charity than usual, give back to the less fortunate or just sharing a meal with someone when you break your fast for the day.
Over the past 2 years or so, I have realised that I have reached a point in my career where I can give back some of what I have learnt and know in the testing industry. Which is why I decided to have more knowledge sharing sessions, present at conferences, webinars and even blogging more. All this to give back to the testing community, to junior testers and even to people in rural communities who might not have had exposure to the Software or testing field. Ultimately knowledge is wealth and giving/sharing this knowledge is a pure form of charity. Even helping out new starters or junior testers at your work place would fall under this banner 3 different mentoring experiences in a short space of time!
Below is 2 recent examples that spring to mind where I could give back something.
Throughout ones life we are encouraged to seek knowledge, knowledge of the world and knowledge of the religion. This is more relevant during the fasting month too. One increases in prayer and supplication plus reads/researches more regarding religious matters.
In one of my more recent blog posts Observations of the testing universe- where are we? And where are we heading? I mention “The testing world as we know it is changing dramatically right in front of us, its scary yet exciting. The best way to make it more exciting than scary is to learn, learn and learn more. Social media and pairing up with others is key to keep in-touch and at pace, google is also your friend and should be used extensively.” this has been at the forefront of my testing career from day 1 and I always kept an eye out for what is happening in the testing world around me. Seek knowledge in this ever changing IT and tech world to prevent you from being left behind. There is so much of change around us and with the evolution of Automation Testing and where its headed this is something we need to keep in touch with. AI + Machine learning is here and will spread at a rapid rate, just knowing 1 form of Automation would not cut it in the future.
Spread your wings and seek out that knowledge as much as possible!