As an engineer, if you want to piss off someone who is asking you whether you can or can’t build a thing, just say, “Given enough time, I can build anything”.
They’ll believe you’re dodging the question, and they’ll think you’re arrogant.
As a means of negotiating a schedule or a feature, this answer is not helpful. You need to take the time to explain your thinking to this person. You need to walk them through your development process. It’s an opportunity to educate and not come off like a jerk.
Given enough time, an engineer can build anything.
And I hire optimists.
Like any profession, software development is chock full of radically different personalities, but I want the optimists. I’m not looking for Yes-folk; I’m looking for those folks who, when backed into a corner with a gun to their heads, respond with, “Fuck it, we’re going to figure it out”.
This base optimism can be hidden in all types of personalities, but when the shit hits the fan it shows up and often creates the impossible.
In my two decades of working in Silicon Valley, I am happy to confirm that this valley is full of these insane optimists. These are people who:
- Work hard
- Over-commit and still deliver
- Rampantly go out of their way to help each other
- Have a track record of stunning success
This is not a population limited to the valley, it’s a population spread across the country and across the globe, but today I’m thinking about my country.
We’re nowhere near the bottom of this disaster we’ve voted onto ourselves. I don’t think the majority of Americans fully understand the severity of our financial crisis. We’re all fervently staring at Christmas, confusing the holiday spirit for hope.
Yet, I remain optimistic.
Regardless of who wins the election, the question remains, “Do we have it in us to re-invent ourselves? Can we rebuild our country into a place we respect?”
Yes, we can.
I live on the west coast of the United States, which is a region pioneers traveled to so they could choose how to define their home, but this whole country is built on that idea — we choose who we will be.
Where I sit, with the cranky engineers –the insane optimists — I hope we all share this optimism because, given enough time, we can build anything.