Shut up, old man…

Old man on phone looking grumpy (Rich Evans of Redlettermedia as Mr. Plinkett)

This is great. It is wonderful when your employer realises that your experience is an asset. Even better when the company expects your pace of work to slow down as you get older and you’re not supposed to “hustle” but reflect and guide instead.

Every inspirational, blue-sky, brainstorming meeting or demo session has a person that keeps disrupting the flow. A battle-hardened, highly experienced developer with lots of memories of how things failed in the past. A person who a lot of people look up to and whose input counts as important. The even bigger problem is that this grumpy old person lives inside my head.

It is important to understand that this is a destructive way of thinking. That’s why I keep telling the old man in my head to shut up and listen instead.

  • We tend to see the past in extremes. We either remember good experiences as excellent or bad experiences as abysmal. We even block quite a few out and the longer in the past something was the more unreliable our feeling about it is.
  • I’ve seen technology change over and over again. I’ve seen things succeed I considered pointless and things I was all for fail to win any public interest.
  • I’ve often been part of experimental technologies that were too early in the process. Computers weren’t fast enough, people didn’t have the devices or connectivity needed. And just when I discarded them as a learning experience the market moved on and — with a few tweaks — they became a success.
  • I’ve learned from failures. I accumulated some knowledge on the way and learned what not to do. Who am I to not allow younger colleagues to get the same insights?
  • We live in a wasteful market. A huge part of our market is a series of short-term successes that fade into oblivion to be replaced by the next hyped product. This appears wasteful, but for years I realised it is not worth complaining about this. It is what it is — burning money is part of an ever growing economy. This can soon reach a tipping point, but that is not a reason to be stingy upfront. This isn’t only about money, it is also about code, work time and short-lived products. Some will fail, and that is OK. You can’t win it all.

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