Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Passionate Programmer

If your software development career needs a "kick in the pants" then you need this book. I needed this book.

I ordered the book because felt my passion for quality software development growing and I wanted to get another take what it means to be passionate about programming.

Ouch! Yes, my thinking is aligned with the author's but my actions don't reflect my passion. I was, like the book says, just floating down the stream of my career, letting the current take me where it may.

For me, the preface alone was worth the price of the book:

If your life is primarily consumed by your work, then loving your work is one of the most important keys to loving your life. Challenging , motivating, rewarding work is more likely to make you want to get up in the morning than dull, average tasks....if you don't do your job well, a large amount of your time will be spent feeling inadequate or guilty over not performing at your best.

This book isn't about struggling to maintain the level of mediocrity required not to get fired. It's about being awesome. It's about winning.

The book is also full of practical advice and "Act on It!" sections with specific, concrete steps to take to advance your career.

Some gems that hit a little too close to home:

It drives me crazy to ask people whether they've seen or used certain not-quite-mainstream technologies only to hear, "I haven't been given the opportunity to work on that" in return. Given the opportunity? Neither was I. I took the opportunity to learn.

Fear-driven career planning is more likely to land you in a cubicle farm for the rest of your life than on the path to greatness. Sure, it's safe, but it's no fun.

Passion leads to excellence. And without fun, there's unlikely to be any passion in a software job.

You have to be passionate about your work if you want to be great at your work. If you don't care, it will show.

You have to start by realizing that even if you're on the bleeding edge of today's wave, you're already probably behind on the next one.

Don't hide behind the shield of mediocrity.

Change is not only possible in your career but necessary.

No longer will I, as the book so succinctly states, do an excellent job at delivering a career to myself that I don't want. I'll continue to work towards becoming a Passionate Programmer - I definitely don't want to end up in a "technology hospice" where all I do is help old systems die comfortably and with dignity.

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