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Posted on: Tuesday, 18 August 2009 by Rajiv Popat

The Lame Whiners Programming Universe

The Lame Whiner; who for the purposes of this post we shall refer to as Fred; is at my desk wondering if Multiplitaxion Inc, has signed up any new short term consultancy projects or will be signing up any new ones in the recent future.

I cringe.

Watching Fred at my desk means that he is going to spend a good half hour talking about why Multiplitaxion Inc, should sign up new short-term consultancy projects. Then he is going to cry like a baby.

He is going to cry like his career; his life and his universe depends on Multiplitaxion Inc, signing up new projects.

He equates new and more short-term-consulting projects to 'growth' and wants to work on something 'billable'.

Putting Fred on a research project doesn't make him happy.

The very words --- 'on the bench' makes him feel insure.

Working on an awesome product and giving long term commitment to it makes him feel nervous.

Long story short; he is not happy --- and he is out to spread the viral-dissatisfaction to anyone who has time to listen to him whining.

The lame whiner looks up to his organization, his client, his colleges and everyone else to make dents in his very own personal little programming universe.

He lacks participation; but seeks opportunity on a golden platter; nicely laid out  --- just for him.

The Problem With Whining About Your 'Circumstances'

Hidden deep down in the archives of Joel Spolsky is a discussion where Joel nails the essence of whining about every little 'excuse' for not making a dent in the universe. Joel talks about the problem with whining; finding lame excuses for your being a mediocre-replaceable-developer and then quitting. While answering one such question about quitting he explains:

Although the tech industry is not immune, programming jobs are not really being impacted. Yes, there are fewer openings, but there are still openings (see my job board for evidence). I still haven't met a great programmer who doesn't have a job. I still can't fill all the openings at my company.

Our pay is great. There's no other career except Wall Street that regularly pays kids $75,000 right out of school, and where so many people make six figures salaries for long careers with just a bachelors degree. There's no other career where you come to work every day and get to invent, design, and engineer the way the future will work.

Despite the occasional idiot bosses and workplaces that forbid you from putting up dilbert cartoons on your cubicle walls, there's no other industry where workers are treated so well. Jesus you're spoiled, people. Do you know how many people in America go to jobs where you need permission to go to the bathroom?

Stop the whining, already. Programming is a fantastic career. Most programmers would love to do it even if they didn't get paid. How many people get to do what they love and get paid for it? 2%? 5%?

If you read between the lines; it is not difficult to understand that what Joel is doing here is giving tough-love to his fellow programmers; and nudging them on the side of righteousness.

It is easy to whine about your organization; your manager; outsourcing; recession; or stupidity that surrounds our industry in general and blame one or more of these external factors for your inability to build anything interesting.

It is easy. It is convenient; and if you get your whining-act right; you can even get away with it.

However; there is just one little problem --- it is your first step at becoming what we officially call a --- whiner.

Time To Look At The Mirror

The next time you whine about not being on a billable project or not having enough work to do; get up and go for a walk to a rest-room or any place that has a mirror; once there; look at the mirror really hard.

Staring right at you will be the person responsible for your inability to build or get involved with something genuinely interesting.

If you are genuinely dependent on your organization for giving you quality work --- and are lost when it does not; you are just one of the flock of sheep waiting to be herd.

Have you seen whiners getting lost, confused, scared and not know what to work on when they are on the bench for just a couple of weeks?

Have you witnessed whiners seeking 'opportunities' out of their projects, organization or managers and when then citing that as an excuse for not building anything; when they do not get their dream jobs, dream projects and dream managers?

Have you ever arrived at office; morning after morning; only to see Fred whining at your desk; telling you long winded stories about how his organization is hindering his progress?

Have you ever wondered why Fred doesn't leave and go find a better organization?

How many unhappy whiners surround you; dear reader?

Discuss.

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.