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Senior Member

This blog article by Humans of IT community member Jon Russell is part of the Humans of IT Guest Bloggers Series. Jon has been in tech roles for the last 19 years and through the Power suite of applications he is starting to see the light. 

 

6 Ways to Maintain and Foster Your Tech Superpower
 

I recently got back from the two-day Microsoft Ignite The Tour conference in London. For me, the highlights were the Humans of IT sessions by Dona Sarkar, Dux Raymond Sy with Samit Saini from London’s Heathrow Airport as a guest speaker.

 

Why, you might ask?
 

First of all - I’m not technical. Well, to outsiders I might be. But really, I’m not. I love people and making connections with them. It’s what my friends would say I am good at. These Humans of IT sessions made me look at myself and really- I mean really - ask deep questions like, “What is my superpower?” and “What am I doing to help others?” 

 

These two questions on their own were thought provoking and made me think about my strengths and weaknesses and how I could improve other people’s view of people in technology, and how Microsoft’s suite of Power applications can be used to do good in the world.  
 

My tech superpower, as I am starting to realize, is being able to teach people how to use Power Automate. I might not be there yet in terms of linking real good ideas in the world to power automate development; however, this superpower has helped me on my own journey of improved mental health and alleviating anxiety, leading to a higher degree of confidence in myself, the work I do and how I interact with other people 

 

I have 6 tips to help foster and maintain your tech superpower that have helped me, and I hope might help you as well: 

 

#1 - Always be yourself 
 

There is no point being someone else. If people don’t like you for you, well, then have a think about that. I try and stay true to myself all the time. How I interact and talk to people and how I listen to others whether I am at work or at home is the same.  This has led me into the position I am now and keeping this authenticity helps maintain consistency within my peer group.  

 

#2 - Compassion and Passion 

 

Try to be compassionate to people. You do not know what they are going through all of the time as Dux said in his "5 Steps of Practicing Kindness talk" at Microsoft Ignite The Tour London about “be(ing) in a person’s Onlyness”. I hadn’t come across this word before. This is a word that means everyone has their own issues and problems, and you need to step into that to understand the full picture. In my context, that could be the problem they are wanting to solve or an underlying issue that is trying to stop them from releasing their full potential.  

 

It is good to have something you are passionate about. I remember preparing for a job interview a while back and someone saying to me, "Don’t come across too passionate." I didn’t take their advice; I was passionate about what I saw myself doing, and I got the job. I am also passionate (in case you can’t guess) about Power Automate. My wife says that if I left her (not that I would, she’s my soulmate!) that I would leave her for the other "woman" named “Flow” (get it?!). I’m passionate about something when I understand it and I can then explain and show others.  

 

#3 - Listen to others and learn 

 

Active listening is an art form. It’s not always easy especially if you are extroverted or not reflective. I have got better at this over time. But it is a skill and can be learned. Silence is key in active listening. Sounds weird? Well sometimes you just need the space in the conversation to think about what you are going to say or how you are feeling in that moment.  

 

I am always learning from other people’s experiences. It is these experiences and interactions that shape me and help me understand my true worth.  

 

#4 - Embrace YOU 
 

For all your quirks and faults, remember that you are an authentic, real person with a lot to give. You might not even have discovered that passion yet. But it is there hiding in plain sight for all of us. My two passions that I have discovered are 1) becoming a mental health first aider, and 2) power automate.  

 

I take my mental health first aider role very seriously. I am lucky in my full-time job at VolkerWessels UK to work at a company that puts high importance on mental health in the workplace and has invested in a first aid program where we have more mental health first aiders than we do (physical health) first aiders!  

 

I’ve suffered from anxiety for a few years now, and knowing that there is that support both in and out of work is a true comfort. With that in mind I make sure to give back through this way - I am always here to provide a listening ear to others as well.  

 
 

#5 - Be kind.  

 

This is something I try to do every day. On my off mental health days, honestly, this can be hard. But I need to get back there. When I do, I feel much more contented. An act of kindness releases dopamine in your body and if practiced regularly can help you to become a much happier and positive individual.  

 

Being kind is so much easier than hating something or someone. I’ve always said to people that hate is such a strong word and emotion - indeed, the energy that the body must expend just to be able to maintain that level of hatred must far outweigh what it takes to be kind. So, choose kindness. You'll be all the better for it!  

 

#6 - Say thank you, mean it and pay it forward 

 

I’m not where I am now without the support of those people around me - that includes friends, family and work colleagues. I make sure I say thank you often, and more importantly mean it. "Thank you" can often be a bit of a throw-away comment without commitment. Be sure to elaborate on what you are thankful for, and why this action or conversation has helped you. Once you have received that help, embrace, learn it and most importantly, pay it forward to others.  

 
 

My story with Power Automate, PowerApps and my Mental Health 

 

I discovered Power Automate about a year ago and I’ve never really had a proper passion inside of work before. It’s like a balance has been totally restored. Someone once said to me that work and home life cannot truly be in balance, and wanted to know how to balance the two. Well, I need to be the same person both at work and outside of work, or I am not being authentic to myself or others.  
 

With the love of this product, I am able empower others. It's amazing to see people’s face change as the penny drops and they understand what I am showing them. Real lightbulb moments. I have had a few of these recently and it really is inspiring to watch.  
 

At Microsoft Ignite The Tour London, I listened to Samit’s story and it resonated with me as he has discovered his passion and is now making it his mission to teach and help others. I, too, have discovered mine: It is power automate, power apps and using these tech tools to make a difference by supporting my fellow Humans of IT, and anyone with daily mental health challenges. 

 

With that in mind, this weekend I decided put my mind to it.  I sat down with my daughter and I sketched out a rough “wire frame” of what I thought a mental health app could look like.  I looked at it from my point of view - as a person who suffers from anxiety, I was both the customer, as well as the builder.   

 

Here are the wire frames: 

 

Wire frame 1Wire frame 1Wire frame 2Wire frame 2Wire frame 3 (my daughter drew round my phone)Wire frame 3 (my daughter drew round my phone)

 

As you can see, it's a bit rough around the edges, but I knew what I was aiming for. 

 

I wanted: 

  • Ease of use 
  • Concise and to the point 
  • Diary to notate how you are feeling 
  • Provide links and additional info on charities/nonprofits that can help 

…. and this is what I have come up with.  For someone with hardly any PowerApps knowledge I think it’s ok. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but then again, aren’t we all?

 

 

To conclude, Power Automate and PowerApps to me, are enabling my life to go in many directions I never thought possible.  It even positively affects my mental health - in fact, I was out with a friend this weekend, and he said that there was a spark about me that had been missing for some time.  It may sound cheesy, and it is a combination of a lot of things but this is the icing on the cake of my mental health journey and now I want to empower others to embrace their mental health state and take action to help them to get better.

 

Thank you for your time.

 

#HumansofIT

#EmpowerEveryone

#TechForGood

 

Connect with Jon Russell:

www.jondoesflow.com

Twitter: @jondoesflow

8 Comments
New Contributor

Awesome 

Senior Member

@sadranyi Thank you very much !

Senior Member

Very inspiring! Well said: #1 Always be yourself. Everyone is unique! I used to work in a company that they expected me to train, code, or teach like everyone else. A lot of scripted dialogue, etc. I believe in branding but you must be yourself to be that unique person.

Microsoft

@ysawonder - Totally agree! Your uniqueness is your superpower, and no one can take that away from you :)

Senior Member

@ysawonder thank you for your comment, yes i think number 1 is super important.  Uniqueness and difference is the key I think

Occasional Visitor

Any recognition of the importance of mental health is of value.   Especially in the current situation.  It is unique...losing freedom of movement.  Impacting in in different w

Occasional Visitor

At the moment, due to lockdown...it is an unique and important time to open the understanding of support available.   Major one currently is abuse within marriage.    Also for our youngsters...a severe interruption in their education...not only that their social skills.    This needs to be discussed and knowledgeable people to discuss the way forward.    It has to be collaborative and involve the different sections of our society...  During that time we need to listen actively and gather all the information re the impact on the person of this horrendous event.

 

I suppose I am talking Liverpool here, my city...how we deal with this...bringing together the problems in different sectors and then collaboration to bring a solution and way forward to repair and improve the breakdown in communication.   I would like to see a real review.....the positive is that we can learn more about how our previous life prior to lockdown was, how  people have lived though it and how they coped.    We need to take this as an opportunity to review everyday life.   People  on their own, people in flats and areas with no garden, people coping with abuse, neglect.   Again I go back to children...some during this time will not have the same life in relation to their position...poverty will impact on so many..abuse ...the stress that is currently felt by so many will have had an impact.   We need to move on but with an awareness of how we can do this and improve the lives of so many.  The suffering normally will have been increased.    Mental Health so important...the expertise we have and the awareness of how we need to improve the lives of so many ...calls for a real effort to make a difference.    I attended an event which we learnt about life in Finland...check it out...they have no homeless, and regardless of income...everyone has the same standard of kitchen and bathroom...???  the gap here between rich and poor is disgusting...lets make this an opportunity to improve this situation.   You asked this question...I answered as I felt was important.

Microsoft

Hi @valpru - so true, mental health is very important, especially now more than ever. This month is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it's a great time to really spotlight the importance of connecting with other humans and checking in on one another. If you're passionate about this topic, be sure to check out our free Mental Health network group on our Community Mentors mobile app and join in conversations there. Learn more: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/humans-of-it-blog/announcement-new-feature-on-community-mento...