D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

To My 24 Year Old Self, Wherever You Are…

Tuesday, January 4, 2011 12:03 AM

A decade is a milestone in one’s life, regardless of when it occurs. 2011 might seem like a weird year to mark a decade, but 2001 was a defining year for me. It marked my emergence into the technology industry, an unexpected loss of innocence, and triggered an ongoing struggle with faith and belief.

Once you go through a valley, climbing the mountain and looking back over where you travelled, you can take in the entirety of the journey. Over the last 10 years I kept journals, and in this new year I took some time to review them. For those today that are me a decade ago, I share with you what I’ve gleamed from my experiences. Take it for what it’s worth, and safe travels on your own journeys through life.

Life is a Performance-Based Sport

Have confidence, believe you’re capable, but realize that life is a performance-based sport. Everything you get in life is based on whether you can show that you deserve it.

Performance is also your best defense against personal attacks. Just make sure you know what standards you’re expected to hit and if people want to poke holes at you let them do the work of trying to find them.

Sometimes performance won’t matter though. Good things will happen to bad people, and bad things to good people. What’s important is that you do the right things and ensure the good and bad even out in your own life.

How you finish is just as important as how you start. Start strong, end strong.

Respect is Your Most Prized Reward

Respect is more important than status or ego. The formula is simple:

Performing Well + Building Trust + Showing Dedication = Respect

Focus on perfecting your craft and helping your team and respect will come.

Life is a Team Sport

Whatever aspect of your life, you can’t do it alone. You need to rely on the people around you and ensure you’re a positive aspect of their lives; even those that may be difficult or unpleasant. Avoid criticism and instead find ways to help colleagues and superiors better whatever environment you’re in (work, home, etc.). Don’t just highlight gaps and issues, but also come to the table with solutions.

At the same time though, stand up for yourself and hold others accountable for the commitments they make to the team. A healthy team needs accountability. Give feedback early and often, and make it verbal. Issues should be dealt with immediately, and positives should be celebrated as they happen.

Life is a Contact Sport

Difficult moments will happen. Don’t run from them or shield yourself from experiencing them. Embrace them. They will further mold you and reveal who you will become.

Find Your Tribe and Embrace Your Community

We all need a tribe: a group of people that we gravitate to for support, guidance, wisdom, and friendship. Discover your tribe and immerse yourself in them. Don’t look for a non-existent tribe just to fill the need of belonging though that will leave you empty and bitter when they don’t meet your unrealistic expectations.

Try to associate with people more experienced and more knowledgeable than you. You’ll always learn, and you’ll always remember you have much to learn.

Put yourself out there, get involved with the community. Opportunities will present themselves.

When we open ourselves up to be vulnerable, we also give others the chance to do the same. This helps us all to grow and help each other, it’s very important.

And listen to your wife. (Easter *is* a romantic holiday btw, regardless of what you may think.)

Don’t Believe Your Own Press Clippings (and by that I mean the ones you write)

Until you have a track record of performance to refer to, any notions of grandeur are just that: notions. You lose your rookie status through trials and tribulations, not by the number of stamps in your passport. Be realistic about your own “experience and leadership” and be honest when you aren’t ready for something.

And always remember: nobody really cares about you as much as you think they do.

Don’t Let Assholes Get You Down

The world isn’t evil, but there is evil in the world. Know the difference and don’t paint all people with the same brush.

Do be wary of those that use personal beliefs to describe their business (i.e. “We’re a [religion] company”). What matters is the culture of the organization, and that will tell you the moral compass and what is truly valued.

Don’t make someone or something a priority that only makes you an option.

Life is unfair and enemies/opponents will succeed when you fail. Don’t waste your energy getting upset at this; the only one that will lose out is you. As mentioned earlier, nobody really cares about you as much as you think they do.


Ecclesiastes is bullshit. Everything is certainly *not* meaningless.

Software development is about delivery, not the process. Having a great process means nothing if you don’t produce anything.

Watch “The Weatherman” (“It’s not easy, but easy doesn’t enter into grownup life.”).

Read Tony Dungee’s autobiography, even if you don’t like football, and even if you aren’t a Christian.

Say no, don’t feel like you have to commit right away when someone asks you to.


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