Forget Passion, Focus on Process
Loving the work you do is not just about loving the subject it covers, there is far more to it.
Nobody loves the tedium of coding horrible designs like insurance applications, but one can love their job if it is
meaningful. This article by 37
Signals talks about what it is to love your job and that it is not simply a matter of loving the technology.
I bring this up for two reasons, the first is that simply and directly this article applies to me in that I choose
to fix computers for a living because I am doing something that matters. As much as I can enjoy fixing computers, I
don’t want to do that when I come home (so have a Mac). The reason this job doesn’t drive me mad is because the
computers have almost nothing to do with the job, in my opinion. This is a job about people. I travel to all
different kinds of places, meeting all different kinds of people from all different kinds of backgrounds and I
simply fix this tool that they use to get on with their daily lives. It is their daily lives that is what is so
interesting about this job. Everybody uses computers now and everybody depends on them, there is no stereotype any
more—none. I enjoy this job because I am making a difference to people who are otherwise treated like crap by
companies—not because I get to tinker with computers all the time.
If you see the job of fixing computers just as fixing computers it will drive you insane in a short amount of time.
What one must realise is the truth that the end user is the single most important person in the computer industry.
There would be no CEO at any technology company unless there were end users to buy this stuff. The sheer level of
contempt for customers that is omnipresent these days ensures that I will always have work. It is the people I work
for that gives me meaning in my job.
Okay, secondly, I bring this up for a more important reason to you, my readers. From childhood I
have never lacked in passion but always lacked in process. I taught myself how to program, I even used a
C=Hacking magazine to
convert the design of an assembly program into QBasic to create a rudimentary 3D engine, which I then ported to the
Playstation 2 with YABasic. If I wanted to do something, I’d find out how.
However, I have never had a mentor to direct my abilities. Had someone been there to show me the community, I could
have been a part of the Commodore 64 hacking scene. I’ve always wanted to make a computer game, ever since I could
first program, but have never finished any. In fact I can barely finish anything, because I can’t prioritise
anything, because I have no sense of priority. Without someone on my case I can only see a large collection of
projects more or less of the same importance and I will just pick and choose what I feel like doing.
Here with Camen Design I don’t get any meaningful feedback that gives me a sense of priority. Is
Video for Everybody important? Are the
forums important? I think they are, but still they
remain dead despite my best efforts to draw in interest*. I get a few e-mails for
technical support with Video for Everybody, but I feel like browser vendors don’t care any more and it’s not
worth any effort. What else do I do, that matters? I don’t know. I’m completely lost. And that’s without
mentioning projects I’ve never released publicly yet.
I am doing myself a lot of harm by being unable to decide what it is I really want to do, and sticking to it.
I know, without much doubt, that I could become truly great at any one thing if I wanted to, simply because I know I
am passionate enough and will simply learn and then excel at whatever is in my way to doing what I want to do. I
could make a great computer game, but I’ve never been able to finish any one I’ve started because I cannot
measure how important and meaningful it is to do that against anything else, and it falls to the wayside.
I know I can make a lot of awesome stuff—that’s what I do—because I always question the way things are, but
does what I make really matter? And by “matter” I mean beyond “this is awesome!”, because I’ve found that
most anything I can present is ‘awesome’ but it doesn’t stick beyond that. It doesn’t net me partners who
are willing to work on my dream together, it doesn’t leave a lasting impression beyond someone downloading it and
thinking it’s neat. Everything I make is awesome, but useless. Just because it excites someone it doesn’t mean
it matters, and certainly doesn’t mean that I should prioritise it over everything else.
This internal struggle is doing me in. When I can work hundreds of hours on making something beautiful and it have
no response beyond “awesome”, nobody there to push me along or to believe in what I do in a way that actually
changes them—gets them to fly the banner themselves—then I am wasting my life away making eye-candy and
I need to take action, just as much as I took action when I made the HTML5 Camen Design and
changed my perspective as a programmer to what it is now. I need to change my perspective as a self-driven person.
As such I am going to begin by cancelling and dropping and giving up on a number of projects that are doing nothing
but killing me with anxiety, as I fret over their every detail for an unresponsive, drive-by audience. I will
publish a few secret projects that I’ve had on my disk to get them out there and out of the way and someone else
can work on them if they are truly any good.
I will try identify what is causing me anxiety and stress and jettison it from my being. I will likely upset a large
group of people who think my stuff is cool—but not cool enough to help out. I am more worried about offending
people who I promised things to and have failed to deliver, as I have done all my life.
Out of this, I realise that I must invest myself more in other people; just as I have complained about a lack of
hard interest in what I do, I should not treat others the same, and instead find where I can invest myself in