Retrospective 2011: "A Sadder and a Wiser Man" No More.

It is the end of the year, the beginning of the year, or rather, it is that logical break where I hope we at least retrospect on where we are and where we might go in the coming times.

While we cannot control what might lie in front of us, we certainly can steer the ship towards exciting things, exciting people, and exciting opportunities.

If we are not steering the ship in these directions, may I invoke the oldest of cliches and remind us all of how very short life can be? This is not just about work by the way, this is about all things. Work is not life, nor is life, work.

In the past year, I certainly read a lot of things, listened to a lot of people and followed a lot of movements.

I do hope that all of these things work for the people who toil away at their focus in such a way that rainbows fly forth from the keyboards and unicorns stampede in the name of their cause.

But all of these things do not work for me all of the time and I’m quite done worrying about if I am following x or y or z any longer. Perhaps the more you know, the more you worry about those things and frankly:

Worrying weighs you down.

Worrying brings you down.

Worrying slows you down.

In software development, I used to think we had a healthy dialog about our tools, our methods, and our culture. Our obsessiveness was taking us to a better place and we were delivering better software, faster and more often.

Lately however, I look at Twitter and think that we sound like an old couple, bickering just to bicker, just to be right, just to forward our own agenda. We talk about craftsmanship, but I know many builders, contractors and carpenters. They just do not bicker in the way that software people do. They build, period.

I can’t see how the bickering is constructive any longer. Could it be just an albatross that keeps one from building something? That bird has tried very hard and to some extent has reigned in that youthful exuberance I once had. That crassness where I felt like I could build anything at any time.

And so, with no sadness, I must say that, Albatross, your services are no longer needed here.

When is the last time you saw a post about “we had x problem and here is how we solved it” where the focus is on the solution?

Instead we get micro-missives about single methods out of context, “written so terribly that they should float in the Doldrums forever”!

I can’t bring myself to read this type of grocery store rag any longer.

People do things and people make mistakes. Sometimes the two intersect.

Smart people learn from, and fix their mistakes. They adapt. They overcome. They improvise. They don’t sit on the sidelines. They don’t heckle. They don’t hesitate.

So, I’ve been busy unsubscribing and reorganizing on the positive.

I saw someone give a warning a few weeks back about x number of negative tweets gets you an unfollow. Great advice. I’m doing this.

If you’re writing crap, then you won’t be able to ship. If you’re writing crap, maybe you’ll ship just a few times. If you’re not writing crap, then you’re shipping and shipping people tell the best stories. Those are positive stories.

I have a lot of things I have been wanting to build, wanting to try. I think this year I will. Whatever the reasons I did not prior, it matters not. I’ll try my best, but I won’t be lashing myself to the whipping post or wringing my heads over a 50 line method. It’ll get refactored just like it always does, or maybe it will just go away because it isn’t needed any longer.

Or, just maybe it will just work and that’s good enough for right now.

I caught up with an old friend yesterday. Over the holiday, he completed a triple ironman in 49:49:40. Straight through. No stopping. Swim. Bike. Run. 49 hours later, he finished.

He wasn’t always training and he didn’t start competing young. I would have said he was never going to do these things, period. He started four years ago and he didn’t do it any way but his own. He’s always done things that way. He put his mind to it, and made things happen. Four years and 49 hours later, he’s in pretty damn elite company. That’s what he wanted to do, and that’s what he did. So very Yoda.

I was truly inspired by it. I want to live up to something like that.

As a very wise man told me once, “Steer Into the Fear”.

And that is the first move, sliding into your own ship and sailing it yourself. I’m not inviting the lizard brain on this ride. I’m in charge of the damned tunes on the deck and this is how it is.

And I will use this song to lead you on.