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Posted on: Saturday, 23 April 2011 by Rajiv Popat

agameofinches

Al Pacino's Inspirational Speech from Any Given Sunday about the game of football and the game of life, is a life changer.

You know when you get old in life things get taken from you. That's, that's part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out that life is just a game of inches.

So is football. Because in either game life or football the margin for error is so small. I mean one half step too late or to early you don't quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast and you don't quite catch it.

The inches we need are everywhere around us.

They are in ever break of the game every minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for that inch On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches that's going to make the FUCKING difference between WINNING and LOSING between LIVING and DYING.

I'll tell you this in any fight it is the guy who is willing to die  who is going to win that inch. And I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what LIVING is. The six inches in front of your face.

Joel's take on building commercial software in similar:

Commercial software—the kind you sell to other people—is a game of inches.

Every day you make a tiny bit of progress. You make one thing just a smidgen better. You make the alarm clock default to 7:00am instead of 12:00 midnight. A tiny improvement that will barely benefit anyone. One inch.

There are thousands and tens of thousands of these tiny things.

It takes a mindset of constant criticism to find them. You have to reshape your mind until you're finding fault with everything. Your significant others go nuts. Your family wants to kill you. When you're walking to work and you see a driver do something stupid, it takes all your willpower to resist going up to the driver and explaining to him why he nearly killed that poor child in the wheelchair.

And as you fix more and more of these little details, as you polish and shape and shine and craft the little corners of your product, something magical happens. The inches add up to feet, the feet add up to yards, and the yards add up to miles. And you ship a truly great product. The kind of product that feels great, that works intuitively, that blows people away.

Michael Lopp calls writing a game of inches too:

Writing is a game of inches. No author I know sits down every morning in their home office and steadily produces three pages a day. I’m sure they’re out there, but these annoyingly efficient and profitable authors aren’t doing this on the side. They’re doing this because they’ve written enough to make it a career.

While the idea of writing books for a living is appealing, my impression is that if I stopped being a software engineering manager, my voice would quickly become an echo of how things used to be rather than how they are. Thanks, no.

You have time. In fact, you have lots of time. There will be weekends where all you will find is a paragraph. There will be a week where all of your progress will circle around finding precisely the right title for chapter 12.

In writing a book, you’re going to find all sorts of interesting ways to mentally beat yourself up. You’re going to consider new tools and different writing schedules. You’ll discover that inspiration can be encouraged, but never created. You’re going to find constructive ways to procrastinate and your friends are going to stop talking to you because all you talk about is that damned book.

You move an inch ahead when you decide to stop whining about how your job doesn't give you enough opportunities and you write just a few additional functions of code on your side project.

You move an inch ahead when you decide to skip that movie and write that blog post that you always wanted to write.

You move an inch ahead when you switch off the television and spend that one extra hour adding a couple of paragraphs to that book you are writing.

You move an inch ahead when you logout of online chat, facebook and twitter and read a book on how to get better at your craft.

You move an inch ahead when you decide to open the IDE and refractor just a little bit of code,  or open the word processor and edit a chapter of your book, on a depressing day where you thought you were not going to be able to do anything.

You move an inch when you reach out for a tiny tool that lets you practice your craft when you're in a meeting or in commute.

The inches are all around you and in the long run they are going to add up.

The hard question that you need to ask yourself is, have you given up to the television, the facebook, the twitter, and the countless excuses about your not making it or are you willing to work your ass off for those inches?

Just a little something to think about.

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