Tag Archives: mike rowe

On the Importance of Letting Your Boys to Grow Up to be Cowboys

I’m going to riff on an earlier post in this post where I touched on work, life and passion. I’ll also drop mention of Mike Rowe’s TED Talk on Learning from Dirty Jobs. It’s all related trust me.

So this TED Talk is one of my all time favorites. My personal take away comes when he talks about the advice so many of us get – about following our passion, working at something we’re passionate about. Instead he suggests that much greater job satisfaction can be found when we do a job, any job, and let our passion follow us there. I think he’s on to something, let me explain.

First, a bit of background.

Beowulf

Beowulf

From the first time I heard my high school English Lit teacher speak the first few lines of Beowulf in Old English, then the first few lines of The Canterbury Tales in Middle English – I knew what I wanted to be. I wanted to grow up and go on to become an English Lit professor at Oxford. My parents were as incisive as they were insightful when they noted that there was a very low need for foreign-born English Lit professors in Oxford.

So, then, I figured Genetic Engineering. Kindly souls reminded me that there was little need for better improved Palm Trees or Camels with three humps, or why not four while we were at it. Never mind that my mind was set on curing cancer and other genetic ailments. Of course, you see the controversy and the promise around Genetics today.

What essentially happened was I got shoe-horned into an Engineering program. Why? Well, I had a VIC-20, then a C64 (and later an awesome C128) – I was tapping away at it all the time – and everyone was saying how there was going to be such a huge need for “computer people.” Besides, between that busy curriculum and my watchful cousins, I would not succumb to the evils of drugs, sex and rock & roll. Well, I’ve been listening to rock and roll since junior high, that fight was long lost. I’ve as yet to be even tempted by drugs. And sex? Well, I was a Computer Science major – the answer to that is rather blatantly obvious, I think, no?

The point is that’s what I was. Coder to CTO, data center to binary bit flipping.

Mike Rowe was right. If I never have to flip a bit again or talk about it for work anytime soon I’ll consider myself a blessed man. Call it too much of a good thing. Call it just too much, but my siren song these days is much different.It’s about business. Strategy. Operations. Finance. Systems & Systemness. Disruption. Innovation.  Those bits? Couldn’t care less. Building a data center? Why? Writing corporate apps? Again, why? Maybe one day I’ll write more on this topic of why computing has become a mass scale commodity, but suffice it to say, it just doesn’t have the same draw as it used to.

In a way I’m happy having it as a hobby. I want to tinker. To play. But work? No way.

Mine is a new passion, and this is my journey to get there.

The Road Goes Ever On

The Road Goes Ever On

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