If you’ve read Call it Courage, then you know the story of Mafatu, the boy who was afraid.
Mafatu grows up in Polynesia, surrounded by the ocean—but everything about the sea terrifies him, because he remembers his mother drowning when he was young. Determined to conquer his fear or die trying, Mafatu sets out alone in a dugout canoe, into the element that terrifies him most. He ends up stranded on an island that harbors cannibals. In one memorable scene, his faithful companion dog is endangered by a tiger shark; Mafatu jumps in the water and attacks with only a knife. When he kills the shark, he realizes that something fundamental in his heart is now different.
He still feels fear, but it no longer overpowers him.
He is free.
I’ve been blogging about the skills and mindset of effective software architects for quite a while now, but I recently realized that I’ve omitted the fundamental subject of courage.
This is an important gap, because courage counts. The cleverest, most skilled architect or engineer will accomplish very little, at key junctures in a career, without it.
Symptoms of fear
In the past two decades, I’ve heard many people (myself included) make statements like the following: Continue reading