We are always on a journey in our lives and in our careers. The journey takes us through sands that shift sometimes more quickly than we can move or even dream. If you have ever walked on sand before, you know the feeling of uncertainty that comes with each step no matter how sure you may be of the direction in which you travel. Although the ground is solid, it feels as if it will slide out from under you at any moment. It is difficult for a human body walking through sand to retain balance as the ground is constantly shifting underfoot. In fact, there are some places in the world made up of so much sand that the entire landscape will shift in a matter of weeks or months. Welcome to your career in software.
In the outside world, there is little that humans control. Eventually storms overtake us, the hail rains down and the locusts swarm around us. There are, however, things we can control. On a trip that I took through the American desert a few years ago, I had a good tent and a sturdy pair of boots.
Now that I’ve torn down my own world in software and in testing, I’m ready to rebuild. California is a new place and, as Patrick Welsh describes it, a “State of Consciousness,” so I’m embracing a new perspective.
In this world of shifting sand,
What is worth keeping around?
What is it that keeps me upright and moving forword?
When I’ve gone astray, what or who has helped me right myself?
What has endured in the software industry and in my own career?
These are some pretty deep questions I’ve decided to probe in an effort to understand myself in relation to the fantastic mess that is the tech world. Although I am still moving forward, I’ve decided to build a tent which will move along with me, but also be my own personal sanctuary. In this new year of 2012, I will be working on my personal software credo. It may appear very hand-wavy at first glance, but my intention is to connect what I find in my exploration to the value I bring in the workplace.
A credo is a set of personal beliefs or a personal mission statement and is a counterpart to a “Creed” which is more formal and typically created by “experts.” These are mostly written in the context of theology, but I’ve noticed more than a few “creeds” in my professional life. We have rules, “guidelines” and “mission statements” thrown at us whenever we join a new org, attend a conference or affiliate ourselves with a professional group.
Personally, I’ve tried to keep myself unbound from any of these as I prefer to define my professional life and, indeed, life on my own terms. As such, I’ve noticed that there are certain people, places and mission statements that ring true for me. Going through the process of writing a software credo is my way of integrating all that I’ve learned about the raw stuff of my own personal existence and making software. My guess is that it will help guide me in making decisions and choosing my future directions.
I will be blogging what I do along the way and plan on unveiling my credo next June at the Better Software/Agile Development Practices conference in Las Vegas. It is no accident that this is a joint dev/test conference experience, but it feels quite serendipitous that this is taking place at a man-made oasis in the middle of a desert.