Don’t Identify With Your Work

The Mind likes its own creations. Often too much. As professionals who use their mind to create anything, we must be aware of this.

Is there a better feeling that that of accomplishment mixed with pride and fulfillment when you make something meaningful on the edge of your abilities?
This you keep and cherish. Taking pride in your work is great. But there is a fine line between that and making it a part of your identity.
This is about Ego management.

Any experienced drivers here? Raise your hands.

When we drive a car it becomes a part of us. This is how the human mechanism of using tools works. Experienced drivers don’t calculate every trajectory, they just know it.

We’ve all heard craftsmen or musicians say they become one with their instrument. Martial artists even mention becoming one with the opponent.
You have probably experienced it when using a hammer or a spoon. Make an experiment to hold a spoon behind your back and see if you know where its end is in space. (Hint: you do)

I don’t know about you, but when I write code I do submerge myself in it.
In time, the letters on the screen disappear, and in come abstract entities with their own quirks and agendas. Just forms in my mind. Once I’m familiar with the context, I feel like swimming in the ether around and in them. Basically I get an intuition over the details, just like a driver and their car.
This is what Josh Waitzkin calls “Numbers To Leave Numbers” in his book The Art of Learning (Highly recommended – the dude is a chess prodigy and a Tai Chi world champion)

That’s ok for the creative process… But the creation has its own life. Many authors realize this and don’t change published texts.

Now, software obviously has to be changed (if it is to have a life at all). There are bugs to be fixed and features (AKA new bugs) to be added.

So when it turns out that amazing program you wrote 4 months into your first job has to be reworked, it’s much more pleasurable if you realize that your code != you.

But if you merge your own identity with your creation any flaw in it feels like a personal attack. (The Ego is a necessary evil, but it sucks non the less).

And, I don’t really wanna be the guy saying “I” while referring to his program.
(Unless I’m still submerged in the code)

If you think I’ve missed something I gladly invite you to write me or post a comment!

(also recommend leading by example 😉

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