Coding with Jesse

Why Not You?

December 9th, 2005

Steve Pavlina just wrote a wonderful piece, "Why Not You?". Like I wrote about a few days ago, I strongly feel that everyone is capable of doing anything. The problem is, nobody seems to know it. Steve addresses this, asking "Why not you" go out and fix the problems in the world that you see.

"It's too big," you say? It's supposed to be too big. Tackling challenges that are too big for you is what makes you grow as a human being. Why do you think this problem keeps coming up in your life, staring you in the face? Do you think you're supposed to ignore it and hide from it and wait for someone else to solve it for you? If you notice it, you own it.

I believe the Internet has made this even easier. It's easy to send off an email and talk to anyone, especially the "right" people. It's easy to put up a website to get support from people across the world. It's easy to find other people that share your goals. All this without leaving your bedroom!

So, think about this. Is there anything that you want changed in the world? If so, go change it!

P.S. Don't get Steve any widgets for Christmas!

Inspiration from Television?

December 6th, 2005

John at Success Begins Today just mentioned that he has put up some new inspirational articles. He writes:

Most people receive inspiration from people they see on television or hear on the radio.

I think this is sad..but probably true. I can't help but imagine millions of people sitting at home, watching TV, thinking "if only I could be rich and famous like that person". Personally, and lately, I get all my inspiration from reading stuff on the Internet. Now, I'm not being stuck up about different types of media. I realise I'm in the rare minority that rarely watches television and spends all my time on the Internet. And I think inspiration is wonderful no matter where it is found.

Nonetheless, television just represents a different world to me. I can't remember the last time I was inspired by people on television or radio. For some reason the phonyness of "celebrities" really turns me off; I never want to be a "celebrity". I have no interest in getting my 15 minutes of fame. And I don't feel the ability to entertain is some incredibly rare talent that should be held high above all other talents and abilities.

I like to see people who believe in a purpose or have seemingly impossible goals, and have focused on those goals over a long enough time that they have succeeded in one form or another. I like to read about how they started off the same as all of us, yet broke through and achieved great things. Sure, these people end up on television sometimes. Like John's example, sports heros can certainly be inspirational. But they are rarely referered to as "celebrities". The people that the television world chooses to "celebrate" are not the same ones I would choose to.

If you disagree, or if you feel I'm missing something, I'd love to hear your comments.

[Update: I've been mulling this over since I wrote the response, trying to determine what it is that frustrates me. I've decided I'm frustrated at the artificial divide that television seems to create. I am frustrated that millions of people think they could never achieve the things they see on tv; that only "experts" or "geniuses" can accomplish such things. And as a result, they don't even try.

I find the most inspiration when I'm reminded that everyone is capable of everything. I believe it's just a matter of attitude, including integrity, passion, devotion.

As John later mentioned, realism is very important. Both to keep plans realistic, but also being realistic with what is possible. I think most people put unrealistic limitations on their lives.]

Don't Quit Your Day Job

October 31st, 2005

For a long time now, since I was in high school, I've had an itch to start my own business. I've had many ideas, most based around the idea of a web design company. I've never followed any of them through though. I've always felt like I would in the near future, but it was never the right time.

Lately though, I've started to think about this a lot more. I guess I always need to have some kind of goal to look towards. Over the past year, a lot has happened. I moved from Canada to Germany. But now that the dust has settled, I guess I feel like I need to be doing something new. I need a challenge in my life, and the clearest way to do this seemed like starting my own business.

I say seemed because that was before I read the sex & cash theory. In a chapter of his excellent piece on How to be Creative, Hugh Macleod says, "The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended."

This really struck a chord with me. I've often thought that starting my own business might be a bad idea. If I did, I wouldn't want to do the marketing. I would hate doing sales. I would want to get someone else to do the designs. I wouldn't mind doing management and support, but it would distract me from what I really love doing: developing software. So, then, what's so bad about being a software developer in a larger company?

Hugh made me realise that I could have the freedom to be creative in my spare time, while still being able to pay off my massive debt by working during the day. And it's not like my work is a bad place. It's a really interesting job and a great company too. I get to do exactly what I want to be doing. I might not have the sort of control I would have with my own business...but then again, if I had my own business I would have to do what clients wants most of the time (if I want to get paid!) So it's really the same situation.

By keeping my day job, I also don't have to worry about making money. If I had my own business, I'd have to find ways to make lots of money with my talents. By letting my day job take care of the steady flow of money, I can feel free to contribute to open source software, volunteer for organisations, or work on web sites with my mom and dad. I can do anything I want! Being self-employed, I wouldn't have this freedom because I would be trying to focus on paying the bills.

I feel a real desire to do something big with my life. I'm really excited about the potential of the Internet (ie., The Future of the Web :) and the ways it is beginning to grow and evolve. I love the way it is transcending hierarchy and reshaping the social structures of the human species. It has already changed so much and we can't even imagine what the impact will be a hundred years from now. I think being a software/web developer in this era might be the most exciting job in the most exciting time period ever.

But, I now realise that there are millions of ways to participate without starting my own business. I just want to be able to continue to work on exciting projects that let me push the envelope of web technologies and web application development. I leave the business-starting to those who are passionate about business, and I'll focus on doing what it is I'm passionate about.

How do you express your creativity and passions at work and at home, or is there even a distinction between the two for you?