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“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (1844 – 1900)
Let’s face it: we all spend a lot of time doing the same things. Even in dynamic roles where “everything is always changing,” we often find ourselves trying to solve the same kinds of problems, while working in the same kinds of environments. Although this is immensely practical, and to some degree necessary, it can possibly hold your team back insofar as strengthening and enhancing important skills.
hor • mes • is noun
the phenomenon in which low doses of toxins produce stimulating effects.
Hormesis is a theory, by which it is believed that exposure to a little bit of something that is bad for you, can actually be good for you — i.e. a little stress is a good thing.
Exercise is a great example of a stressor. Not only do people who exercise get better at the act of performing the exercise itself, but benefits are often seen in other areas, such as a reduction in depression and anxiety disorders. Hormesis is also the fundamental theory behind other health strategies: calorie restriction, cold therapy, heat therapy, even radiation therapy.
As professionals, can we can benefit from this concept, too? If we can change things up a bit, throw in a little randomization from time to time, maybe we can fire up parts of our brains that we normally don’t get a chance to trigger. These little sparks can lead to improved professional health and growth in ways that we otherwise cannot easily achieve.
For example, how about throwing yourself into a situation where you have to do this:
This is exactly what we did at Axosoft in the month of July. Our development, QA, and marketing teams all stepped away from our familiar, if not cozy, work areas and projects. Our month-long hormetic ice bath was an exercise in creating new things from scratch, tight schedules, bootstrappy work conditions, and a lot of unknowns.
As a participant, I can say without pause, that we came away from this experience stronger. We created Dashzen and Pure Chat, but perhaps more importantly, we learned to work with each other in new ways, we all picked up new skills, and we were able to get a good glimpse at what we are capable of doing.
In the end, we were all glad to return our focus to Axosoft’s core products, ready to apply what we had learned and to face our day-to-day challenges with sharpened instincts. In fact, the next version of OnTime will immediately reap some of the benefits of what we learned in July — more on that to come soon.
So is a little hormesis in order for your team? If not a month-long stressor, perhaps building some randomization into your normal routine? Be sure to watch Two New Startups in 30 Days — Dashzen & Pure Chat and let us know what you think.