Thoughts on serendipity and planning…
Happy As A Dog Chasing Cars
My favorite part of The Dark Knight is when the Joker is talking to Harvey Dent in the hospital, and he says: “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just DO things… I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.”
And therein lies the best career advice I could possibly dispense: just DO things. Chase after the things that interest you and make you happy. Stop acting like you have a set path, because you don’t. No one does. You shouldn’t be trying to check off the boxes of life; they aren’t real and they were created by other people, not you. There is no explicit path I’m following, and I’m not walking in anyone else’s footsteps. I’m making it up as I go.
(via Charlie Hoehn)
Brilliant or insane? It depends on what interests you and what makes you happy. There’s a big difference between “do what makes you happy” and Augustine’s counsel to “Love God and do as you please.” The latter offers healthy constraints. The former endorses the likes of Hannibal Lecter. But there is a healthy dose of wisdom in Mr. Hoehn’s advice. (See also Just Do Something.)
Planning is Useless, But Do It Anyway
Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of “emergency” is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.
Nothing ever goes according to plan, but planning gives you the mental categories for handling the way things actually do go. It reminds me of college, when I was sometimes permitted to bring a one-page crib sheet to some exams. Invariably, I never used the crib sheets during the exams: the act of preparing it got me ready for whatever the test threw at me.
Build One To Throw Away
The management question, therefore, is not whether to build a pilot system and throw it away. You will do that… Hence plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.
That’s great advice for software engineering, but not so great for life. You only get one of these things… you don’t want to end up like this: