A Tale of Two Brothers

(This story is purely fictional, although I am sure that in the course of history it is very likely that something similar happened)

One day a husband and wife were blessed with a double miracle in the form of 2 identical twin sons.

Within the first 4 years of their lives it had become evident that God had blessed the boys with a raw talent in the arena of sports. In order not to pressure them, and to ensure that each son was given the opportunity to pursue their passion, the parents decided to see how these natural abilities would evolve over the course of the years.

Up until high school, both boys naturally participated in the same sports clubs and because of their God given gifts, they were able to excel to a level that eclipsed that of most of their peers. Fast forward a couple of years to high school.

In high school one of the brothers decided to drop out of sports and follow an interest in business studies. In the meaning his brother was relentlessly pursuing the improvement of his physical abilities. His average day consisted of the following routine:

  • 5:00AM - Wake up for 30 minute jog to the swimming pool
  • 5:40 - 6:40AM - 1 hour intense swimming
  • 12:00PM - 12:40PM - Gym session at school
  • 4:00PM - 6:00PM - Gym session at local YMCA

You get the point. This brother was taking the ‘time’ and ‘effort’ to hone a gift he was given. The other brother had found a new passion and although not given a natural gift for business, he was devoting his time to learn everything he could about business studies.

Fast forward 10 years. The brother who followed the athletic path, excelled above and beyond both his peers and his brother in the arena of athletics. His brother, who was still gifted in athletics, was still at a slightly higher athletic level than that of the average athlete, but he was an order of magnitude of skill lower than his brother and even other people who had not been given a gift for athletics but had spent years improving their physical makeup and developing themselves as athletes. He was now an accomplished businessman and had build and developed several successful businesses once he had graduated high school because it was something that he trained to do, and improved on continually.

What is the point of this story?? A lot of people ask me the question ‘How Do You Do It?’ My first response to them is ‘What?’. They will continue by saying things like :

  • Maintain a healthy marriage for 11 years
  • Raise a family of 4 kids
  • Blog
  • Speak
  • Excel in particular areas of .Net

My answer to them is plain and very simple. Why is software any different that any other skill that a person chooses to pursue. I absolutely believe that there are people who are born with a natural gift to be able to write software. A gift left unopened is still a gift unrealized. If you are one of many developers who has acknowledged that software is a craft that you can choose to hone like any other skill; you will see that all these people out there who you currently consider as ‘experts’ are no different than yourself. The only difference is that lots of the forerunners in the field have chosen to hone their skills in one or more areas to a level that helps them stand out from the crowd.

What does it mean to hone your craft in software development? In all honesty I truly feel that first and foremost it means writing a lot of code. Getting out of your comfort zone and solving a problem you have solved dozens of times before in a completely different way. Finding a group of peers who can challenge you in a friendly and competitive way to raise your own level of expectations for yourself.

There truly is very little magic when it comes to looking at anyone who has been able to excel in their field. From the people that I look upto, they all share the trait of pursuing excellence in the craft that they have chosen for their careers. Be that software development or not.