Every time I walk into my office building I have to read this quote by Jeff Bezos: “You don’t choose your passions, your passions choose you” and I get so annoyed because I don’t think it’s true, in fact, I think it could misguide some people that would be waiting for that moment when suddenly they will realize what they want to do in life or the moment when they’ll figure out the next Facebook… I might be a bit sarcastic, but the truth is that I’m not a fan of romanticizing things, I believe in preparation, practice and hard work, to me, most successful people are those who choose a path, stay focus, prepare every day and work hard for their goals and objectives.
Of course, it’s not easy to wake up and work hard every single day, sometimes things get complicated and we feel frustrated or stuck… but then, what keeps us going? doing something we’re passionate about. If you don’t feel passion for what you do, it’d be too complicated to overcome difficult times. There are many reasons that contribute to employees lose their motivation and passion at work, some times it’s the money, some times politics or complicated processes and policies… trust me, we all have felt this way more than once… but if you stay focus on your goal, none of these things will stop you, you may require to make some adjustments here and there but always keep your eyes on the prize.
Let’s take a step back and talk about how would you know if you’re passionate about your work or, how would you recognize when someone is being passionate in the workplace. I’m surrounded by software developers so I’ll mention some habits I’ve noticed on truly passionate Developers:
- Before starting any code, they analyze what’s the requirement, does it make sense? they questioning themselves, how is this going to help the business?
- They warn the rest of the team when a change will cause an impact on other areas of the project
- They warn the business if the request may cause a negative impact
- They offer alternative solutions if the request is not the best approach
- They write their code in an organized way and it’s well documented
- They write their code following standards so any other teammate could read it and understand it
- They don’t name their variables a, b, test, or things like that
- They warn the team when some piece of code needs to be refactored
- They study and train themselves constantly and share their knowledge
- They get their environments constantly updated to prevent code conflicts
- They avoid to duplicate code or leave code that is no longer needed in the solution
- They test their code thoroughly
- They document their tasks as appropriate for QA team or other teams to understand what was done
- They prepare when need to present something to the team or the business
- They make suggestions not only about code related stuff but other things, like training recommendations or new trends that the whole team needs to be aware of
- When they get to write a report, email or document a workflow, they do it professionally, add the logo, use a standard and consistent font type, review the grammar and add bullet points when apply, etc.
- They join meetings on time and get prepared for them
- They question if certain calls would be the best use of their time
- They never go and leave a broken environment when they know someone else is using it
- They are good at estimating their own work and are able to estimate others’ work too
- They have a sense of urgency and communicate good and bad news on time and form
These are only some of the qualities of the best developers I have worked with… these guys don’t wear a suit, they don’t use fancy words or elaborated full of sh*t arguments, but man! they’re most likely the main reason things get done.
This is why I get so mad when I read that quote from Mr. Bezos, because all these habits and others, these are not things that ‘choose’ you, it’s something that you decide to do and go for it. I have been lucky enough to have known and worked with more than one of these truly passionate developers and it’s just amazing how ‘easy’ they get to resolve things. OF COURSE, I KNOW it’s not easy, don’t get me wrong, I see the hard work behind it, I see the commitment and the level of effort that they put into things.
But what to do if you don’t feel this passion at work? Well, if you believe in what Bezos says, you can wait until your passions knock at your door…. relax, I’m kidding! Am I??. But seriously, what to do? Uh? You probably won’t like what I’m about to say, but, this is how I see it:
- First, don’t wait for your boss or the company you work in to do it for you, you have to acknowledge that you can do more
- Set goals, choose small ones as a starting point
- Make a (realistic) plan to achieve them, it’s important to keep it real so you won’t get frustrated because nothing happens
- Look for a mentor, talk with him or her, ask for feedback and guidance
- Read, study, look for online challenges or study groups
- Work on personal projects
You have to be aware that you’ll need to put time on this, probably more than you’d like to, but trust me, when you reach that level, there will be no projects, processes or company politics that could stop you, you’ll be successful wherever you go.
Now, a quote that I actually like: “What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”