The Effective Developer – Passion

This post begins a series of topics I will be posting for a book I am writing entitled “The Effective Developer”. The topics come from my Padawan to Jedi presentation I have given at the Austin Code Camp for the last two years. There seemed to be a lot of curiosity and around the topics I presented, so I decided to dump that knowledge down on paper to benefit a wider audience. I hope you all find it useful.

I do ask one thing. If you read this, and have any feedback, please post it in the comments. I welcome any constructive criticism you may have. Is there something else I can add? Should I remove something? Please let me know… Thanks.


The effective developer is passionate about his work. He loves what he does and is therefore driven to do it well.

If you really want to be great at something, you have to love it. How can you be motivated to excel at something you don’t enjoy? A healthy passion provides a wellspring of motivation. It drives you to do your best, and constantly improve your best. Just think of the advantage this gives you.

You see, we tend to do the things we enjoy. We think about them, read about them, and practice them–because we like them; we call them hobbies. A passionate developer’s hobby is his job. Because he loves it, he is driven to do it well. As you can guess, I am passionate about software development. I love reading a good tech book or blog, writing code or writing this book. These activities sharpen my skills, but they don’t feel like work. I enjoy them and they come naturally to me. I love what I do and I do what I love. This is the biggest secret to my success.

Sidebar: A warning about passion!

Please be aware that passion can lead to an unbalanced life. Its easy to spend too much time on something you love doing. Resist that temptation. Don’t neglect the important areas of your life, like family, friends, church, etc. These are essential for happiness, and they are far more important than work. It’s tempting to believe that happiness can come from work alone. However, that kind of happiness is fleeting; it’s a lie; burnout and sadness soon take its place.

I will never forget what a wise friend once told me. He said, “I work to live, I don’t live to work”. This should be true for all of us.

When I interview developers, one of the most important things I look for is passion. I will hire a passionate developer who is lacking technically. I know their passion more than compensates for their deficiencies. Because passion can have such a profound affect on the ability to learn and grow as a developer, I believe it is one of the strongest assets a developer can have.

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One Comment

  1. Chad
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Where does the passion come from? Is it a personality trait? Is it something you can cultivate? If so, how? Is being passionate the same as having fun?

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