With 34 years of programming experience, Cal Evans is a top PHP influencer, evangelist and web development community legend. Cal’s has governed his working life based on how he can make the lives of developers, all over the world, easier. In doing so, Cal shares his insights on how leaders can be reinvigorated, what to do when job-inspiration is lost and taking an educated leap of faith.
M.R. Rangaswami: What do you suggest for leaders who feel they have lost the passion for their job, yet still believe in the company and the direction?
Cal Evans: Passion is overrated. If you have a company you believe in and you like the direction it is going, keep working there. Seriously, the worst thing that we’ve done to the current generation is to beat into their psyche the mantra to “Follow your passion”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love programming. I got into it as a hobby and then realized people would pay me for it. But now…I have no hobby, I have a job. We need both a vocation and an avocation.
These days I scuba dive. I also help out with classes teaching people to scuba dive. Scuba diving is my passion – my avocation. Programming is my vocation.
I still study programming a lot.
I still write a lot of code that has nothing to do with my 9-5.
I still continuously hone my skills.
Programming is my craft and I want to be the best. But my job is not my source of happiness.
If you don’t have a passion for your job, cool! Welcome to the 99%. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. As long as you don’t hate your job and it pays you enough to pursue your passion, keep at it. Find your passion, whatever it may, and pursue it with all vigor.
M.R.: What about the opposite? What suggestions do you have for leaders who haven’t lost their love-for-the job, but no longer agree with the direction their company is going?
Cal: Find another job. Until you do though, you owe it to your team and your company to do the work you were hired to do to the best of your ability.
I took a job once that deep in my heart I knew wasn’t a good fit for me. They put a bucket of money on the table and I dove for it. Sure enough, within the first week I was already miserable. After the first month, I started looking for a new job.
Just because I didn’t agree with the CEO on, well honestly, anything, did not alleviate me from my responsibility. I kept working as long as the checks kept coming. But after hours I dove headlong into a search for a new job.
It doesn’t matter how much you love/hate the job. It doesn’t matter if you agree with the decisions being made at the company. You’ve been hired to do a job and it is your responsibility to do it to the best of your ability. No grousing, no dragging your feet, no phoning it in because they didn’t take your advice. DO THE JOB until it’s no longer your job.
M.R.: If someone sees an idea or opportunity to build something of their own (app, platform, function etc.), what are your suggestions/guides on whether or not to leave their existing job to start-up their own, or, stay and work within the boundaries of their organization?
Cal: The question is whether to stay inside the comfy cocoon of your existing job and make something for someone else, or strike out on your own and roll the dice on yourself. Honestly, this is a question that requires a lot of deep soul searching. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. It’s okay to say that you don’t want the stress of building something on your own. You won’t make bank if it’s a wild success, but you also won’t go broke if it’s a failure.
Before you decide which way to jump, stop, get off by yourself for a weekend and just think. If you have a life-partner, include them in the conversation (but don’t let them make the decision, only you can do that).
If you decide to strike out on your own, make sure you talk with a lawyer first and make sure the company can’t lay claim to your idea because of your employment contract.
There is no shame in not wanting to be an entrepreneur, entrepreneurs are every bit as important. You still get some of the stress, hopefully, you will share in some of the reward, but you have people around you to help carry the load.
M.R. is the Co-Founder of Sand Hill Group.