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Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2009 (Minneapolis, MN) with: Rick Stumbo
Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2009 (Minneapolis, MN) with: Rick Stumbo

Working Code Podcast - Episode 013: Do What You Love And You'll Never Work A Day In Your Life

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A friend of mine once said, "If you hate your job, you'll spend 5-7ths of your life waiting for the weekend." This is a dark way to think about existence. And, to address the flip-side of that coin, Mingo Hagen suggested that we talk about the phrase, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." This is a significantly more optimistic view on the human experience; but, does it hold up to scrutiny?

This week, the crew and I talk about the privilege of being able to choose work that we truly enjoy. Not everyone has this opportunity; and, even when we do, loving your job doesn't always make it feel any less like work. In fact, as Tim illustrates with some scripture, the challenge and hardship of work can be what makes it lovable and fulfilling:

Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. - Matthew 7:13

Bringing a different sort of scripture to the conversation, I shares one of my favorite poems, "Our Deepest Fear":

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. - Marianne Williamson

The conversation examined the "do what you love" concept from a variety of different levels, with each host coming at it from a different angle. What becomes very clear is that the quote means different things to different people. But, the one thing we think we can all agree on: don't commit to work estimates that you don't believe in! Doing so will only make you your own worst enemy.

Or, listen to the full audio:

Listen to Episode 000, with:

Triumphs & Failures

  • Adam's Failure - he spent many person-hours trying to reduce the size of a Docker container image. And, while he eventually reduced it quite a bit (mostly by moving to Alpine Linux), he wasted far too much time on what turned out to be a simple little typo in his make file. The most frustrating part of all of this is that he just assumed that the line-in-question could not possibly be the issue; so, he kept debugging the lines around it without addressing the actual problem.

  • Ben's Triumph (that's me) - A co-worker and I, Jackie Ewald, were recently called-out as the embodiment of "customer empathy" at InVision because we built a custom feature for one of our clients. What made this so rewarding is the fact that we did not ask for permission to build this feature; and, it was a feature that we almost-certainly would not have been allowed to build had we asked for permission.

    I like to keep this quote from Stephen Gates - the former Head Design Evangelist at InVision - on hand during all ideation meetings:

    ".... for most companies, right now, because of the way their processes are-because of how afraid they are of so many things-the innovation that they need will probably not be authorized.... When I look back at all the work that was innovative, it was only innovative in hindsight-it almost got me fired on the way there."

  • Carol's Triumph - She's loving life in Lake Tahoe! Woot woot! Rock on with your bad self!

  • Tim's Triumph - as a manager, he usually finds himself in a constant state of "meeting". However, he recently blocked-off 7-hours of heads-down time on his calendar so that he would not be interrupted; and, the amount of work that he was able to get done was refreshingly preposterous. He even received a compliment from one of his clients who thanked him profusely, at the end of the day, for everything he was able to complete!

    ASIDE: Managers, consider this story when it comes to scheduling meetings for your engineers! We need focus time to get our work done!

Follow the show! Our website is and we're @WorkingCodePod on Twitter and Instagram. New episodes weekly on Wednesday.

Reader Comments

I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel