Role Models

This is the inaugural post in a series that highlights people who’ve influenced me.

Almost everything useful that I’ve learned about software comes from observing great practitioners of the craft. It’s my good fortune to know many.

Sometimes I’ve learned from overt teaching–lunchtime training sessions, discussions around whiteboards, talks at conferences, emails and blog posts…

“… When necessary, use words.” Image credit: Jusepe de Ribera (Wikimedia Commons)

More often, however, the deep lessons soak in over time, as I see a colleague model alignment to a value that they’ve internalized. Supposedly St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Put that in a business context; who have you known that’s preached an eloquent sermon to you about the art or science of software by the way they decide, talk, or behave?

Over the next little while, I’m going to post about some of these role models, and the lessons I take from their examples.

I apologize in advance for a few things.

First, any list of mentors that I offer is going to be woefully incomplete. In three minutes of brainstorming, I already had a score of people/principles I wanted to talk about; I’ll never cover everything that deserves mention. Even when I cover something, I may not be able to highlight everybody who’s taught me a given principle.

Second, my memory is imperfect. I may remember something in a way that’s different from a mentor’s recollection–either because I experienced it differently in the first place, or because I’m starting to have senior moments. Inaccuracies are inadvertent and will be gladly corrected, if anybody can set me straight.

Action Item

Make your own list of mentors. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how long it gets.

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