The Passionate Programmer

I just finished reading the book, The Passionate Programmer, by Chad Fowler. If you read one inspiring career book this year, this book should be the one. It has been a while since I’ve read such a motivational book that doesn’t just repeat the same old stuff.

The book talks about the things that make you a remarkable programmer and will help you build a remarkable career. For instance, the book mentions that many people come to IT because they think it will be a lucrative career, not because they love it. I see this in my day job. I can look around and see people who are only there to collect a pay check and could care less about technology past the door of the office. Do they go home and study to stay up on the latest trends and developments…nope. To really make it successfully in this field, you have to be passionate about what you do. To be passionate, you have to really love it.

At the same time, the Author urges you not to be dogmatic about your choice of technologies. This makes since considering how fast the technologies can change. Ten years ago, dynamic languages were virtually unused and today, thanks to many web frameworks like Django and Ruby on Rails, Python and Ruby have really taken off. Back then, you were cutting edge if you used Java and now that same decision is playing it safe. The Author also mentions that while you should plan your career, that planning should be more Agile rather than following a Waterfall approach. You must be willing to bend with the tides and adapt yourself and your skill set.

What is the number one thing I have taken from this book? I learned that no matter what the current safe trend is, if I want to be great, I have to love what I’m doing. While I will be learning the Java web stack, as previously written about, I have to admit that I don’t love Java. I like it, and I will continue to work on it at my day job and learn as much as I can, however don’t be surprised if you see most of my focus on python, Django, and web front end technologies like HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

Lesson learned:

  • If you want to be great, you have to be passionate about what you are doing.
  • Be willing to change you focus. Don’t get so caught up in a particular technology that you don’t see it all changing around you.