In the End, It's All a Question of Heart

“Heart is a game changer in everything.”

“Agree.”

I was referring to this post about how players with heart change a team. I was thinking bigger much bigger. Agreement came from the wise @delasare, who happens to be a Knicks fan as well.

So, who has heart? What is heart? What does it mean to “play with heart”?

Does it mean to be passionate about what you do?

Does it mean to be competent in what you do?

Does it mean to be the smartest player on the field?

Does it mean to learn something new and bring it back to the team?

Does it mean to try the hardest?

It is some and none of these. For me, playing with heart is attacking something that is near and dear to one’s self. It might be an issue nobody else will touch. It might be something unique to just you. Playing with heart might be trying things others haven’t envisioned in order to solve a problem, push a new idea, or to just make things better. Heart is having the courage to try that which is truly hard and being comfortable with a possible failing outcome.

That doesn’t mean we have to like failure. That doesn’t mean we start out assuming anything but ultimate success. That doesn’t mean foregoing proper preparation. That doesn’t mean less than 100% effort.

Heart is when our eyes meet, there can be no denying you gave it all. We can think you wrong, silly or bat-shit insane, but you played your heart out. You may have succeeded, you may have failed. Regardless, we salute you. You took it on, where others would not, could not, or should not have.

We see heart play out dramatically on the field of our favorite sports teams every week. Why do players that were once mediocre suddenly break out and change the entire game? Why does one player suddenly change the outlook of the entire team? Why does optimism spread to others?

We also see it play out in many other areas of our life. I’m talking about life at home. I’m talking about our own personal ambitions. And yes, I’m talking about software development teams.

Regardless of outcome, there is absolutely no shame in trying, on the “field” and off, and I will always stand by that statement.

It seems to me that as we age, we steer away from risk, from new, from challenge. Browsing Twitter or the web certainly will show many examples of can’t, won’t and shouldn’t. These three tar pits of mediocrity leak out at every opportunity; and this just gets amplified by experience. We start to lean into an uninteresting and unhealthy balance of risk and reward as the years of experience stack up against us.

Think of a hard problem to solve, in any aspect of your life. Now think of how you might attack that issue. The test is how many people would say, “Awesome, go for it!” and how many would hand you a wouldn’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t as an out? Would you take that easy exit?

Ask yourself, how have you failed lately? What were people’s reactions at the start? What were they at the finish? Do we get a different reaction based on success or failure? Why is that?

Are there things you want to try but are afraid of? Did someone talk you out of something that you regretted not following through? Do you have the heart to attack those things that are important to you? To run up against those things that others will let slide? Will you regret it later if you do nothing now? Do you have a crazy dream that you are not following?

What if you died right now?

In the end, it’s all a question of heart.

I will wonder if I had it. Will you?