Software Development: A Woodworkers Perspective (Part 4)

March 15, 2019

Matt Thompson

“Don’t Be A Hero”

In other words — Don’t be such a stubborn, arrogant fool that you lose a piece of yourself in the process. Over the years my pride has definitely pushed me to some extremes I’m not proud to admit. As a craftsman, you know better. Wear the gloves, the eye protection, don’t have your hand so close to the blade… Safety first.

However, there are times you just need to “Make something work”. I don’t always have the tools I need… but “Hey! If I rig this tool, maybe I can…” Innovation is a great tool, one that needs to be utilized but your pride and ego can easily push it over the edge sending you to the nearest urgent care or worse. So far I’ve been lucky… but I have witnessed others. Now they set a constant reminder.

“Don’t get so caught up in your work that you lose a piece of yourself… literally”

The Crossover

Sure, you probably won’t physically lose a piece of yourself typing away at a keyboard, but there’s a lot to learn here. The mental games can be a harder battle than physically getting hurt. The frustrations, stress, anger, depression, anxiety… they are real. It’s easy to say “I’m going to make this work” but how many hours do you spend trying to force it to your will? How long do you wait before asking for help? Do you? Deadlines are near, your team members have their own issues to deal with. It’s my responsibility, not theirs. What do you do?

Every personality is different, but the message is the same.

Don’t lose yourself in the process.

My personality is a “power through — all or nothing” type. A couple of years ago, the number of projects, goals, and family responsibilities kept stacking. I felt like I had something to prove and even more to prove to myself. In my mind — it was part of the job. For work it was fourth quarter, late in the year, if I could just make it to the holidays I’ll be able to breathe and feel incredibly accomplished for it. So I let the chip on my shoulder hold all the stress and anxiety from the year and kept pushing forward day and night. Honestly, I knew I wasn’t myself but I was meeting my goals and that’s what mattered. I lost track of family, I lost track of what day of the week it was, I became my work. Then one night I woke up to my wife shaking me, when I came to I realized I was on the floor in the hallway. She had a bloody rag and I can still remember the look of concern on her face. I remember feeling something funny, a missing tooth. I blacked out. I have no memory of those few hours. After a night in the ER and a few stitches later… I had to take a look in the mirror. The black eye, the bruises, all of those things eventually heal. What hurt the most, was having to admit that I did it all to myself.

I pushed too hard. I let my pride get in the way. There are limits.

You can’t invest 110% in all areas of your life.
At least not at the same time. It’s a balance.

Don’t be a hero — It hurts.

More about:

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is a lead engineer at Echobind, mentor, and content creator. Matt spends most of his time finding ways to improve the process for others. When he’s not building software, you’ll find him enjoying time with family, unplugging with a book, and woodworking.