Archive for category The Art Of Manliness
I came across a post on Programmer’s Stack Exchange yesterday that really irked me. It took me a little while to really digest what upset me about it, but I think I understand now. This developer was asking for more reasons to back up his claim that he should move his solution from VBA to C#. That in itself is fine. As I stated in my response, I understand his desire to move his solution to C#. I wish I could move all of my projects to the .Net platform myself.
No. Wanting to move to a more modern technology was not my issue with his question. My problem was with how he acted like working in an old technology gave him a pass on being a professional.
To those of you who read my drivel for the software stuff, I apologize. There will be no mention of code this week, other than that one. You see, I’m getting married to the funniest person I know two weeks from now. Needless to say, I have more important things on my mind.
My beautiful wife to be is giving me the best present a schmuck like me could get, two daughters. So, I’ve got the jitters, but they’ve nothing to do with getting married. My fiancé is my soulmate and there is no doubt in my mind when it comes to making her my wife. What has me nervous is the solitary question of, “Am I good (Step-)Dad?” I know; it’s cliché. Every parent wonders if they’re doing a good job of raising their kids, but that doesn’t make the question any easier to deal with.
The only Dad I ever knew was the man who married my mother and raised me as his own. Let me make this clear, he was not what I would call a good man, but he was an excellent Dad, while he was still around. Furthermore, he didn’t have to raise me as his own. He could have treated me like what I was, someone’s else’s child. He didn’t though, and that is his one true redeeming quality. He stepped up and did what should be done, instead of just doing what he had to do.
My girls are lucky enough to have their Dads in their lives, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t take my job very seriously. I treat them like my own because it’s what they deserve. Anything less just wouldn’t be right. I guess that’s what I’m here to say today. I’m here to challenge every man out there to do what’s right, to go above and beyond the call of duty, and to remember that your wife’s kids are your kids too, even if they aren’t.
They’re not always going to like you or listen to you, but you better damned well be there for them when they need you. I’m sure I’ll mess up along the way, but every parent does. After all, we’re all only human. If my Dad taught me anything though, it’s that being there is what matters most when it comes to children. That much I can do, so there’s nothing to fear. Some kids are lucky enough to have a father in their lives, mine are lucky enough to have two.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a particularly good friend of mine. We somehow got on the topic of “good enough” and how it just isn’t. Let me preface this with “I’m guilty”, and I truly am. There’s no way for me to say this without sounding condescending, so please believe me that I don’t mean it to be arrogant. My “good enough” tends to be better than average. This has allowed me to more or less skate through life and let me tell you something, I have not done nearly enough.
Oh sure. I’ve done pretty well. I have a good career, a great family, and the best friends a guy could ask for, but what have I done? The truth is I’ve done a lot, but not nearly as much as I could. Why is this? Because I, like you, am lazy. Of course I’m lazy. I didn’t intentionally become a programmer. I became one because I was lazy. I understood that if I put the effort in up front to build a piece of software to do it for me, I would never have to waste another second doing it by hand again. That’s also the only reason my good enough is better than average. I’m lazy, but I recognize that it’s a better investment to do some extra work up front in order to reduce the overall amount of effort over time.
The title is a quote from Cloud Atlas and it hits home for me. I’ve had to make hard choices, we all have, but it always comes down to just that for me. What can’t I not do?
This is subtly, yet importantly, different from “What do I have to do?”. Oddly enough, phrasing the question as what has to be done has a negative connotation. Whereas the double negative statement of “What can’t I not do?” is a positive and reaffirmative statement. Asking yourself what you must do is a trap. It can make you feel, well, trapped.
I have to do my taxes.
I have to stay at this job, even though I hate it.
I have to get over my ex.
Traps. All of them. Statements like these make you focus on the problem instead of the solution. Compare them to these.
I can’t not do my taxes.
I can’t not quit this job, so I can pursue meaningful work.
I can’t not get over my ex. If I don’t, then I’ll never be happy.
Are you starting to see the power of this particular double negative? Try it. Think about what YOU can’t not do.
A year and a half ago I realized that I had to pick up my life and move hundreds of miles to be with the woman I love. It took a little longer to realize that I couldn’t not take the risk and go.
For the record, it was the best thing I ever could have done. I couldn’t be happier.