2008-02-10

Just Do The Work

I could stop there. Just do the work (the “you” is implied). It’s amazing to me the lengths to which people will go to avoid doing work that, in the end, is inevitable. I’m not talking about being effective (in a specific sense). We all have our “off” days where the most that’s accomplished is the very careful and detailed tweaking of Excel’s toolbar so that you have easy access to AutoFilter but never have to see that stupid hyperlink button again. In an alternate geek universe, this scenario ports nicely to a day spent installing a tweaking Gentoo.

I mean, at some point, you’re just resisting. And it’s obvious. It’s probably not personal. It’s almost always symptomatic of a larger degree of unhappiness. Moreover, it’s a bad habit that you really need to break.

Magic does not exist to do our gruntwork. That’s the role of interns and junior SAs. If you don’t have those (and even if you do), let’s ponder a short list of things that you just need to stinkin’ do when they’re in front of you:
  • Create that spec document for the Foobar project
  • Fix the folder access for *all* the sales users, not just the ones who call
  • Update the damn server spreadsheet your boss needs to understand your world
  • Make a coherent project plan for Foobar, and this time remember to send it to everyone
  • Have an uncomfortable conversation about something that’s bugging you
  • Resolve that invoice no one wants to touch
  • Schedule time with friends for lunch. We’re not machines, and people are important, too

I’m not a movie fanboy. But I do remember an interview with Matt Damon on Inside The Actor’s Studio. I can’t find a transcript, but the question was “what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about professional acting?” His answer? Early in his acting life, a coach had ingrained in him to “just do the work.” To him, all his talent would be wasted if he wasn’t willing to lose 40 pounds for his role in Courage Under Fire, learn to box for the physical fundamentals subtly revealed in The Bourne Identity or write the damn script for Good Will Hunting. Just do the work.

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