Reflection: Passion and Pride


I had a great conversation over lunch today with some co-workers, and among other topics we discussed what motivates people. One opinion voiced was that everyone is driven by money. While I feel that is true for a number of people, I certainly don’t believe it’s true for everyone. Passion, in my opinion, is a much greater motivator than money. It is passion, I believe, that has fueled the open-source software community, and driven people to post and share a wealth of knowledge on blogs and sites like Wikipedia. It is passion that drives me, too.

I spend a tremendous amount of my time writing code, watching screncasts and reading books. Just last night I was up late as part of a few hour long mini-hackathon putting together some prototype code to be used later as part of a project a colleague of mine will be working on. And you know what? I enjoyed it. It didn’t bother me that I woke up this morning without having had as much sleep as I probably could have used, because I woke up with a sense of pride in what I had accomplished the night before.

It’s important to do that which you are passionate about, and for me that is writing code, so that is what I do. I’m often accused of working too much, and I suppose it could seem that way to some, but when you are doing what you enjoy is it really work? That isn’t an open invitation to my boss to pile more work on my plate though… I’ve got a fair load as it is.

When I’m not writing code, my eyes do get tired sometimes, I do have to surround myself with other things. My golf game is pretty terrible anymore, but I do rather enjoy shooting pool, so that is a passion I’m trying to grow. I’ve played for several years now, but I’m going to begin making more time for it and try and play a more serious game.


My list of virtues contain’d at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my pride show’d itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinc’d me by mentioning several instances; I determined endeavouring to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest, and I added Humility to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word.

The passage above is from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by, of course, Benjamin Franklin.

Words to live by, right? I think so anyway. Which is not to say that I do a very good job putting this into practice, because I don’t. When I shared earlier that I was proud of my accomplishments the night before when I was writing code I thought about my use of the word pride and how it relates to the passage above. In that particular context I think it’s okay to feel a sense of pride, because I don’t feel I was being boastful about it. I wasn’t calling attention to myself with this whole “Look at me, ain’t I wonderful” kind of attitude. And no, that’s not what I’m doing right here and now in this post.

There are opposite extremes though where our pride can become a detriment. It is far too easy to cross the line between confidence and arrogance, to make it difficult for others to engage us in conversation, or even want to for that matter. We all need to remember that who we are is a product, in part, of who we have received help from along the way. I for one would not be enjoying the career I have had it not been for the people I’ve worked for in the past who decided to take a chance on me. Heck, one of the reasons I know I’ve had a problem with pride is that a former boss of mine, after I was no longer working for him, made mention of the fact that I should be grateful for the opportunities that have been afforded me, and he was right.

That’s It

Let’s all run off now and become better people, be nicer to those around us, be less arrogant, be a mentor, or do something we are passionate about and really love doing.