Sunday, August 28, 2011

You've got to find what you love (says Steve Jobs)

There was an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal on August 24th.  About Steve Jobs. It gives the text of his commencement address at Stanford in 2005.  A quote from his talk is: "You've got to find what you love."  This is maybe the punch line of one of the three stories he tells.  Please go read the address

I think this is a wonderful idea.

I don't know much about Steve Jobs, just the obvious stuff.  Maybe he is sentimental, but I don't think so. (I do salute all he has done. Some failures, but I mostly remember all the successes.)

What I do find is this:
* life is wonderful, and a wonderful gift. (Ok, not always, eg, when Hurricane Irene has just beaten you up.)
* far, far too many people are doing things that they don't really want to do.  Things they only feel they somehow must do.
* life is short.
* why not live full-out today?  As best you know how.

None of these is a terribly original idea.  No doubt you have heard each one before. But I tell you, they are compelling to me these days. Perhaps you can see a logic, of a sort, in how they are connected.

Let me tell you a story.
The other day I was with a small group, getting ready to practice Hapkido (a Korean martial art, like Aikido roughly).  A few friends were talking. One guy was talking about how he was working with this 23 year old girl, who did not understand money and credit cards. Absolutely no understanding. She has 15 credit cards, and an enormous debt on them, compared to her earnings (which are probably meager, compared to you).

The guy who was trying to help her said: "I am trying to teach her the practical realities of life."  And my immediate thought at that instant was: "No, money is not practical. What is really practical is changing her spirit.  That is what she will live and die with. When we die, we leave all the money and stuff has no practical use then. When we die, the spirit is all we have."

Not sure I have stayed convinced, since then, that spiritual work is the most practical.  I doubt, if you are a skeptic, that my story convinces you.

But I will suggest this, perhaps more seriously.  If you work and work at something you love, you will be more successful at it than at anything else.  By whatever definition of success you give yourself.

To make this just a tad Scrum specific: Product Owners, it is for you to help them feel, if they will, that what you are proposing they do will in some important way fulfill their lives. At least for the time they will work on it. You hold their lives in your hands...well, at least their lives for those days and weeks and months of that effort. Don't waste it.

Why should a Product Owner care?  On the beautiful Sunday that I see as I write this, one can think of many reasons.  But, to deal with the skeptics, let me quote Little's Second Law: "People are remarkably good at doing what they want to do."  And the more they want to do it, the better it will be.


Let me end with another quote from his talk:
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do....Don't settle....Don't settle."

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