On the heels of my surprisingly viewed post on F-U Money, I'm going to start posting work related posts every two weeks. Here's one on perspective.
Imagine this. You are driving to the airport on a beautiful, random weekday. The freeway is not completed, so it ends abruptly at a traffic light which is red. You check your rearview mirror for impending danger. There is none. Then 30 seconds later all hell breaks loose. The interior of the car is filled with mist. Your foot is still on the brake, but yet you are definitely moving. You finally come to a stop, but it is eerily quiet on what should be a busy freeway. You get out of the car and you then see the carnage of 15 cars that have been run over by an eighteen wheel tractor trailer that never hit his brakes. You are the second car hit (draw a line from the middle of the passenger door to the front middle of the hood) and dragged 100 feet under the trailer. The Toyota Four Runner is not nearly so lucky. You witness the driver take his last breath. His headrest ended up in your car. The mist in your car used to be the fluids from the Four Runner. Your wife's shoes were knocked off her feet and her sunglasses some how end up out of the car on the road behind you. All the windows are gone. Both front seats are broken and folded flat. The dashboard is broken in half and folded like a teepee. And you are the only two people (out of 15 cars) that are not taken to the hospital. The picture above ran the next day on the front page of the Austin paper. We were in the black Suburban.
Now close your eyes and replay this in your mind.
Professionally I've given hundreds (or maybe even a thousand) presentations to customers, partners, analysts, investors, internal and external. I really enjoy public speaking now, but at my core I will always be an introverted engineer and every time I give a presentation there is a certain level of anxiety involved. Almost always before going on, I visualize the accident and remind myself of the importance of perspective. Doing hard things is actually pretty easy when the alternative is that you're not even around to do it. To a large extent, I attribute this attitude to how I made the move from engineer to CTO.
Google has written about The Eight Pillars of Innovation. One of them is Never Fail to Fail. We all have to take risks and face our fears. We also need to set unique and seemingly impossible goals. What is impossible to me may not be impossible to you. The technology press is awash in awesome stories of incredible things happening. But three you've likely not heard of are:
My wife's trek on the Camino de Santiago last month. Quick post on our personal blog.
Chris Crowley's Younger Next Year movement. Think old guy does amazing fitness things while you're coding in your open office space sucking on a Coke and eating a cookie.
Garrett Fisher's quest to photograph all the 14'er's in Colorado from the vantage point of his 60 year old, unheated, underpowered Piper Cub.
So what have you been wanting to do that you haven't and why not? Mobile programming? Podcast? Public Speaking? Rebuild an Airstream? Take a sabbatical? Learn to snowboard? Start or join a startup? Big data? Start a blog and learn about eCommerce? Work for Apple, Google, Amazon or Yahoo? Learn to fly?
Perspective, Fear and Impossible Things. Just get started and build/do something.