This morning, Episode #68 of This Week in Software Testing went online, and in many ways, this was one of my favorite episodes to produce. We still deal with the challenges of optimizing Skype for multiple conversations (it’s getting better) and it was tough to decide what to keep and what to trim out, but I think the result is worth it.

This show also celebrates the first appearance of Jonathan Bach as a contributor. We’ve been trying to get Jon on the show for months, but various scheduling issues and other factors have prevented it from happening. We’re glad he could join us for this, especially since we cover one of my favorite topics, Motivation.

It’s a challenging thing to deal with what motivates people. We often get it wrong. What motivates me may or may not motivate you. Some people are motivated by money. Some are motivated by attention or fame. Some just want to see an idea of theirs take shape. Some want to grow internally and spiritually. Some just want to have fun.  Many want varying combinations of all of the the preceding.

I discovered that, in a way, my biggest motivation is this… I want to be part of a vanguard movement.

This really doesn’t surprise me. It was my primary motivation as a musician, above and beyond just playing and dreaming of being a rock star. I really liked the idea of representing San Francisco and the San Francisco rock scene. More than just wanting to be a rock star, I really wanted to be a rock star “that came from San Francisco”. Ultimately that dream fell short of my ultimate and intended goal, but I’ll dare say I went a lot farther with it than many people I knew that had similar dreams did. To be fair, many more went much farther than I did, of course, but the motivation was still there, and that motivation defined my involvement.

In Scouting, I’ve held a lot of leadership positions, ranging everywhere from Tiger Cub Den Leader, Cub Scout Den Leader, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Venturing Crew Advisor, Explorer Post Advisor, Order of the Arrow Chapter Advisor, and Assistant District Commissioner (sort of a Board of Directors for the Scouting movement in a given area). Again, much of this came from my desire to be involved and my self identification as a Scouting leader and wanting to make a difference in the lives of families and in my community.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I became part of “the movement” that was the burgeoning snowboarding scene in Lake Tahoe during the early part of the 1990’s. That was a core part of my identity for many years, and it still is in a lot of ways. While I never had any real thoughts of ever “turning pro”, I did align with and aspire to associate myself with the ideals of the snowboarding movement. In fact, one of my first stabs at editorial writing came through this era. I wrote a number of feature article for an online snowboarding magazine called “Cyberboarder” (don’t laugh, this was in 1995, *everything* was cyber this or cyber that… OK, go ahead and laugh, it’s cool 🙂 ). I started competing in the late 1990’s (as a Masters level competitor, i.e. the over 30 division). I won a few medals, placed in a few slope-style events, and podium’d in several races, actually winning a Gold Medal in a regional event in 2004 in the Giant Slalom. I wrote about my experiences and published them in a series of articles (about 30 of them) called “The Geezer X Chronicles” (you can enjoy my early writings for “Cyberboarder” and “The Geezer X Chronicles” via “The Way Back Machine” if you so choose 🙂 ).

What’s my point with these examples? Feeling a kinship with these communities, and actively seeking that kinship, gave me identity. Identity gave me purpose and a mission. Mission gave me drive. Drive helped me produce.

For many testers, I believe that the problem is that there is not quite a sense of belonging, or that many testers are unaware of a broader community. Those who will read this are probably already aware of this broader community. The greater challenge is getting those who are not aware to become aware of it and encourage them to be a part of it.

For me, looking back, the real and true motivator in my life, and the one that has had the most sustaining power, has been kinship with a group of people. Continuous communication and involvement has helped me develop drive and passion, and with that drive and passion, opportunities appear. Other opportunities are spawned by how we respond to the initial opportunities we are offered. If you are wondering how to develop your test mojo, my answer is to find other testers who similarly want to improve. Become a community, or attach yourself to the broader testing community via Twitter, LinkedIn, Forums, Weekend Testing, Associations, whatever. The sooner you become part of a community that you care about and cares about you, the sooner you will kick your own motivation into overdrive. Or at least, that’s what did it for me :).