Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tough Love from 37Signals

You probably know who David Heinemeier Hansson is (creator of Rails, Basecamp, and several other wonderful things). Well, he's got a post over on the 37Signals Blog today that is short and brilliant. It may come across as a little harsh, but it's not. It's spot-on accurate.

If you want to be successful as an iPhone (or any other kind of developer), you may have to make sacrifices. You might have to give up or cut back on things you enjoy, like television, movies, and games. When you sit down to play World of Warcraft, and the next thing you know it's 3 AM, well, just imagine how much coding or learning you could have done in that time. Overnight successes are the exception. Most success stories involve a lot of hard work and long hours.


jrock said...

Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Thomas Edison.

JFMartin said...

I couldn't agree more. Sometimes, at night in front of a TV Show, I tell myself: I should be doing design, coding, reading, etc. But, I must have a balanced life.

I'm a firm believer that when not working on something, the brain is still doing "number crunching" about that thing...

Jeff LaMarche said...

Yeah, my point is not to say that you can't enjoy television and become a successful developer, only that we've all got the same number of hours in a day, so if we don't make the time to do the things we claim we want to do, we can't blame "time". There are exceptions to that, of course - the single parent working two jobs, etc. But most of us who make it (and I have made it), it's not really an accurate complaint.

The flipside is you really need to figure out your own definition of success. For me, money is only one factor. If I don't have a certain amount of it - enough to be comfortable - then money's a big factor for me. Once I reach that level, more money isn't much of an enticement. I'm making less now doing iPhone stuff and writing than I was before doing travel-based ERP consulting, but I consider myself more successful because I like what I do and I get to spend more time with my family.

If you truly enjoy television then, by all means, you should watch it. But, if you then feel like you don't have time to do something else (like become a better developer), you should realize it's not that you don't have time, it's simply that you (whether you realized it or not) prioritized something else (watching television) higher and that time is a finite quantity.

For me, I found I was watching television not because I enjoyed it, but because it had become habit. Once I broke the habit, I never really missed it. With one exception (in twenty years) - I truly enjoy Battlestar Galactica (the current one, not the old one), so I watch it every Saturday morning off of iTunes and don't regret those 41 minutes a week one little bit.