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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 |<

Developing a Team With a Purpose

Purpose - by Seth SawyersDear Reader,

Having all the developers on a team mentally engaged – having them excited to be on your team, not just excited about writing software – is important. Otherwise, what you’ve got is just a group of developers working on software. The is a huge difference between a development team, and a department of developers working on the same project; that difference is engagement.

Find your WHY

For a department of developers to make the jump to an engaged team, they have to understand – and buy into – They WHY. They have to understand and agree on why they are practicing the craft of software development. Your job as a leader is to make sure the your developers are engaged in the team, not just the process. You have to help them understand and buy into the WHY of the team. If your team’s WHY is “because their paycheck arrived” then you have a department, not a team. Lead your team in discussion to discover the team’s overriding goals. Help them understand what the team’s guiding principles. Look beyond your department, your company, and even your industry. Get everyone together and talk it out.

If all of this sounds too touchy-feely for you – afterall you just want to hire more developers – you may be in the wrong position. As a leader of a development team, it is easy to think that your job is to hand out assignments. Your job is to lead the team. You are a parent, a cheerleader, and a servant, all at the same time. All this takes time. You have to invest your time in the team, so they will invest their time in the projects. There is a payoff though, time invested in the development of your team’s culture is not simply a sunk cost. Companies that invest in their development team’s culture, rarely have need for recruiters. A culture of respect will attract top talent.

Once you have figured out why you as a team do what you do, let the rest of the world know. This alone – having a team with a purpose – will set you apart from most of the other jobs out there. Having a development team with a purpose will help you attract the talent for which you are looking.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Photo Credit: Purpose by Seth Sawyers
Used under CC License