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Passion !== Purpose

Dear Reader,Cal Evans underwater selfie

The biggest disservice my generation did to the future was telling them to pursue their passion. Yes, passion may make you happy for a while. However unless you have a purpose, you will never experience real joy.


For instance, my passion is scuba diving. Those that know me understand this statement. Those of you who don’t know me, may not understand that when I say “my passion is scuba diving” I mean I love every aspect of scuba diving. Even those things I don’t like about scuba diving (e.g. cave diving) is still fascinating to me. Even those days when I am out on my favorite dive boat in rough seas and I am “hugging the bucket” I still love scuba diving. Scuba diving makes me happy, at least for 40-50 minutes at a time.

If I followed my passion however, the lovely and talented Kathy and I would be living out of my Jeep by now. Don’t get me wrong, I like my Jeep, but I want to make enough money so that the lovely and talented Kathy can have a roof over her head and a bed to sleep in at night.

The old joke in the diving industry is

Q: What’s the difference between a scuba instructor and a large pizza?

A: A large pizza can feed a family of 4.

Still, even though it can never provide for the lovely and talented Kathy in the way that she deserves, scuba diving is something I am passionate about.


Teaching on the other hand, is my purpose. I’ve been teaching in one way or another most of my adult life. I think my first real teaching gig was as a private tutor for BASIC programming. It was fun but again, it wasn’t lucrative enough to pay the bills.

Since those days I’ve started user groups, run conferences, and developed and presented classes to programmers who wanted to learn something new. Along the way I discovered that I get more than happiness when I see someone learn, I get a sense of fulfilment. A sense of joy that is not possible with something that I am simply passionate about. I like teaching but I don’t love it the way I love scuba diving. I’m ok with that. I don’t have to love my purpose, I just have to understand it and then fulfil it. It is the fulfilling of my purpose that gives me the joy.

Yes, being underwater makes me happy for 40-50 minutes at a time, I don’t ever want to change that. Teaching someone ELSE how to be happy underwater, that brings me joy.


Find your purpose, then you’ll find real joy.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

I teach…

Dear Reader,

My mother was a school teacher. My father ran music education programs for every church at which he worked. I was raised to think that it is normal to help others understand the things that I do.

That’s why it’s really no surprise that when my career took a left turn in 2006 and I started working on ways to educate developers, I took to it like a duck to water.

As I’ve talked about before, I try and stick to the things I am qualified to teach, PHP, MySQL, programming, and building teams. These are the things that I know. These are the things that I understand well enough so that I can share with others.

It’s not just my vocation to teach developers, it is my passion. I want to help the current generation of developers become better developers, and I want to help raise up the next generation of developers.

I teach because I know something other’s don’t.
My unique perspective on a problem is something that others with the same problem may not have considered.

I teach to elevate others.
If I can bring developers to my level, then it is easier for them to climb to the next level, and bring me up.

I teach, because it makes me happy. 
By helping people, I work to make my corner of the world a little better.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

I love writing code!

Dear Reader,

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

— Marc Anthony

I love writing code. I love writing code that makes computers do things. I discovered this love when I was 14 years old and it has never left me.

These days I get paid to write code, It is awesome. Even so, I’ve written code when I didn’t get paid, I’ve written code that I can’t/won’t sell, I’ve written code that no one else will see, just for the sake of writing code. I LOVE WRITING CODE.

Because I love it, sometimes I am overzealous in the pursuit of writing code. I’ve worked 80-120 hour weeks before. (Whether for my employer or for my own person projects does not matter.) I’ve stayed up all night writing code, I’ve sat down in the morning to write code, looked up only to find that I had forgotten to eat a meal, take a shower, or even interact with another human that day. It’s not the healthiest thing I’ve done but it was fun! It was fun because I LOVE WRITING CODE!

I’ve been told personally, privately and by some less than clever people in sub-textual tweets that I need to stop working more than 40 hours a week because I am setting a bad example for others. Newer programmers who may not know how to balance their life might see me talking about coding straight through the weekend  and think that it’s ok. I wonder, did anyone ever tell Freddy Mercury, you need to stop playing instruments, singing, writing songs, and performing because you are setting a bad example for others? Did anyone tell Sir Edmund Hillary that mountain climbing was an unhealthy lifestyle and that he should stop glorifying it?

I get it, I am blessed. (I am not privileged because of my birth. I am not lucky. I am blessed by God) I get paid to do something that I love. If you are not in that position, if you program computers and then go home and have other interests, that’s wonderful, more power to you. I celebrate you because programming allows you to live the lifestyle you choose. But don’t come down on me because computers are my other interest. Don’t tell me that I can’t continue chasing a problem long after you’ve given up and gone home because this isn’t your passion, it’s your paycheck. Honestly, that’s your problem, not mine.

If I decide to put in an 80 hour week because the problem I’ve been given to solve is interesting,  you don’t get to decide if that’s healthy or not. You don’t get to tell me to stop because my work ethic is setting a bad example for others.

For 12+ years now I’ve been helping people become developers, and become better developers.  I’ve advised countless people to ‘follow their passion’, well, this is what that means. I am following my passion. If you are blessed to love programming as much as I do and you get paid to do it, pull out all the stops, chase that problem for as long as it takes. When you solve it – and you will solve it – smile at the inner peace you have because you solved it in large part because you love what you do, and persisted in doing it long after others gave up because they have other interests. Be proud of yourself, because you really are living the dream.

Until next time,

I <3 |<

When it comes to public speaking, leave it all on the stage

Dear Reader,

Vince Lombardi is famous for this exhortation to his players. He told them to play with every fiber of their being, to “leave it all on the field”.Vince Lombardi is famous for this exhortation to his players.  He told them to play with every fiber of their being, to “leave it all on the field”. As a presenter, you have to learn this lesson as well. You have to bring not only your ideas, but your passion. Once on the stage, you have to use up all of that passion, you have to leave it all on the stage.

This means give it your all. Give it 100% Don’t hold back in intensity, in knowledge, in passion. Give it to them with both barrels. When you finish, you should be emotionally spent.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

The great American author and poet, Maya Angelou wasn’t talking specifically about public speaking when she penned this line. It is still, however, a poignant point for all developers wanting to present at technical conferences.

Learn more about public speaking.

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Until next time,
I <3 |<

Photo Credit: Alberto ….