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This isn’t a stretch of the imagination by any means. Sometimes, if you just hear someone out, you may actually learn something.

Imagination is stronger than the will.

Thats what I learned watching an episode of Paul Mckenna’s tv show I Can Make You Thin. He doesn’t talk about dieting. Rather, he tells us that we can’t hold ourselves from temptations through will alone – we inevitably break down and binge. The more we say, “I won’t touch that chocolate cake”, the more we’ll fantasize about it. You’ll soon find yourself saying, “I won’t touch that creamy chocolatey morsel filled cake that melts in my mouth.”
So what’s the solution? He tries to use the imagination to provide negative associations and connotations to foods we crave (sweets, emotional foods, endless quantities). He says to pinch one’s thumb and middle finger of the left hand together, tightly, while imagining eating something you are repulsed by. I hate liver and so I grimaced as I closed my eyes, clenched my left hand thumb and middle finger together, and imagined chewing on slimy liver. He then advised the audience to imagine mixing this food with hair from a barber shop and some spit. You can see where this is going. You then associate this negative feeling of clasping your thumb and middle finger whenever you see or think about your craving food. This negative association provides a mechanism by which to avoid those craving foods, as we imagine something repulsive whenever we see that food. He does something similar with the right hand but associates that physical gesture with something positive, pleasurable, and amazing. This comes to play when working out or when we just crave that endorphin boost that we get from chocolates and sweets.

He’s got 4 golden rules.

  1. Eat when you’re hungry (you’ll just binge otherwise and likely late at night)
  2. Eat what you want, not what you think you should have (you’ll eat a bigger quantity of forbidden food if its forbidden!)
  3. Eat consciously… enjoy every mouthful.
  4. Stop when you think you’re full (try to leave some food on your plate. You don’t have to finish it all)

Hmmm, maybe we’re doing it all wrong.
Positive association: Why make developers feel insecure about their code by writing tests against it or giving them lessons on unit testing tools? Why not associate unit testing with something positive? Developers already grimace at this as it means late nights of hair pulling and a back and forth dialog of “This works for me”. So we just need to think of ways to positively associate test driven development for developers.
Maybe we need to change the way we look at the software development lifecycle. Maybe we should shift the focus to finding causes instead of looking for symptoms all the time. Why praise someone for finding the most bugs? Why not instead shift the focus to figuring out the organizational cause of the problem? (Is there too much pressure on developers to hammer out code too quickly? Does an internal system component need to be refactored?)
Negative association: We need to block out factors that have inhibited us from being agile. This could be processes, people who strictly abide by old processes, and some technology.
If all else fails, just find the sweet spot between agile development and your extreme. I think the French could be right on this one – everything in moderation.