Monday, October 20, 2008

Cause for Code

So - you get caught up in the day to day, same old routine - things get boring and stale - and sometimes you wonder why it is you do what you do. Coding takes a lot of focus - and like anything else that you have to concentrate on - it can cause you to lose your perspective. So if you're in that place right now - let me remind you why you do what you do......(and it's probably not the millions of dollars, rock-star status, and adoring-obsessive fans).....

This is from "Good To Great" by Jim Collins:

No, those who turn good into great are motivated by a deep creative urge and an inner compulsion for sheer unadulterated excellence for its own sake. Those who build and perpetuate mediocrity, in contrast, are motivated more by the fear of being left behind.

We create - we build... we pull together a myriad of different pieces of technology (most of which are far short of being mature) and piece them into working systems that not only help people accomplish - but often times, inspire and direct that accomplishment.

But take a step back with me....take a deep breath. If you notice in the passage from Collins, he discusses two motivations - which, I believe are both very prevalent in software people - the deep creative urge for excellence, and also a certain level of fear. I think everyone has a measure of both of these drivers threaded through our lives and our work - but the extent to which you can let the drive for excellence defeat fear determines the level of your work, the level of your influence on others, and the level of your own personal enjoyment of your work....(yes, you should enjoy your work - but that's a discussion for another time).

So - hopefully you know about how neat it is to nail the details of a particular system in such a way that you can just look at it and tell that it is solid and well put together. Hopefully, you are hungry for more of that. Hopefully you have that deep creative urge for excellence for its own sake....

Even though you have the hunger for excellence, fear can come into an environment in many ways - and many of us are very familiar with this. It can come from miscommunication with co-workers, being mistreated by a co-worker, or even if you mistreat a co-worker. Though, when you think about things, you can usually trace it back to its origin.

So - what is there to be done? Take responsibility for the situation - make it your mission to remove fear and feed your own hunger for excellence. If there is something that is keeping you from feeling free and empowered to do your work, identify it and deal with it - if it means doing something scary, like confronting someone, or even moreso, finding different working arrangements. Make sure that YOU are putting yourself in an ENVIRONMENT that will allow you to have your hunger for excellence. This is your responsibility - don't pass it off on to someone else.