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Posted on: Saturday, 10 October 2009 by Rajiv Popat

Climbers.

You are a young, budding and really smart graduate fresh out of college.

You have landed with your first job.

Ambitious; full of dreams and a relentless desire to grow and climb the corporate ladder rather quickly .

More sooner than later you will be faced with a hugely important decision of picking the growth path you want to take.

A choice.

The sky will fall; and you will find yourself exercising frequent skips; playing the blame game; or hinting to your manager how every single f@#kup that happened was not your fault.

You might also find yourself casually hinting to your manager whose fault it was.

When the yearly reviews happen; you would have jumped ahead of all your colleagues; your manager has developed a reputation of your being an alpha-geek who never fu@#ksup and you would have earned your promotion.

You; are a climber.

Choosing to be a climber is a perfectly legitimate career choice; except of-course that there is just one minor hiccup associated with it.

Empathy.

You give none of it; you get none of it.

Yearning desire to indulge in the act of 'climbing' probably creates more asshole than any of the other reasons.

Brief Digression and a quick history lesson.

The battle of Gaugamela is taught in practically every history class that talks about Alexander. An example of amazing planning and war techniques; what only a few history books will tell you; is that this war was also a classic lesson in managing intelligent human beings; growing as a leader and winning wars.

After a fierce battle; execution of an amazing war plan; Alexander is practically minutes away from slaying his arch enemy; the Persian King Darius III; when Parmenion; a general in the army; sends out a distress signal.

The choices Alexander is faced with are fairly simple:

Continue his advance; slay Darius; win the battle or Turn around; move to help Parmenion and let Darius escape.

Alexander chooses his men over victory.

He helps Parmenion; lets Darius escape and eventually wins the battle.

Historians around the world will tell you that what Alexander really won in Gaugamela; more than the battle; was respect and trust of his army; which eventually won him multiple other battles that followed.

The Builders Path.

If you are in any remote way associated with software development; like it or not; the sky will fall; and when it does; I don't care how amazing your work culture or your work environment is; someone high up in the pecking order is doing to ask the question that ultimately destroys projects around the globe:

"Who was responsible for the fu@#ckup?"

When the sky falls; you are left with pretty much two simple choices: you can take the climb path or you take the build path.

The build path happens to be slightly less glamorous.

You find yourself sitting in front of your colleagues monitor; helping them out with threading issues.

You find yourself trying to talk about the problem rather than answering irrelevant questions like who was responsible for it.

You find yourself giving cover fire to your team and every once in a while you find yourself in a heated argument with your manager; which to be honest; is not the best way to get a promotion.

But then; you and your team scores and when the promotion comes and you have a fancy sounding designation on your business card; you know you at-least you didn't 'climb' ruthlessly all the way up to it.

If software development is a war; build stuff that is remarkable; and when given a choice; pick your men over victories.

Successful projects will follow pretty much magically.

I wish you good luck.

Note: This article is a part of a Work In Progress Book. To Read connected articles read the Builders At Work category of this blog.