Reading time: 4 minutes
My Old Man
My Old Man (my father) liked gardening. After a hard day of crunching numbers as an accountant in the City, he would come home and put on his battered jeans and tatty shirt and potter around the garden. For a hyperactive 9 year old, gardening was… boring. I mean, The Old Man would stroll up and down, turning over the soil, watering the plants and removing the weeds. As a man from The Old Country (Africa), Dad had a special appreciation to the Earth that I, the London city dweller never appreciated. After a couple of months (sometimes years) of work, Dad would proudly put the greens, fruits, tomatoes and onions on the table and with a weary grin say “there is no better taste than food planted by your own hand”. Boring. Boring. Boring.
But as I have grown older, I think that The Old Man was into something…
Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist
During the journey of changing my career, I decided to blog for 3 reasons:
3) To become a multi-millionaire blogger who is best friends with Kanye West, Mark Zuckerberg & Richard Branson*
(*OK, I’m only kidding but if it did happen, I wouldn’t say no!)
Social media has really opened my eyes to a whole new world. It has allowed me to talk to incredible people from all around the world. But I’ve also noticed another interesting pattern…
Sometimes, I will be contacted by an ‘expert’ or ‘guru’ who will bombard with direct messages telling me “How To Be A Billionaire in 10 Minutes” or “How To Be A Property Magnate in 2 Weeks”.
That always give a great chuckle.
If Direct Messages were weapons, Mr ‘Expert’ would be whacking me on the head screaming BUY! BUY! BUY! while I sent my money to his email address firstname.lastname@example.org. But why do people fall for these scammers time & time again. Because we view success like a Secret Agent…
007: You Only Succeed Once
Hollywood has messed us up. Anything worth having in life is meant to be sexy, fast, fun, exciting & you’re meant to look good while doing it. I feel that our relationship with life change has gone the same way as James Bond on his latest mission: whether it losing weight or changing our careers, we are told to “follow our dreams” and go “all out”. Like a James Bond film, we expect every single moment to be exciting, meaningful and to have a happy ending. We want it and we want it NOW, damnmit!
But it’s not like that. Most of the time it’s… Boring. On this road, many of us won’t be jumping out of planes like Mr Bond but our journey is slow and steady – It’s a process and not an event.
2 Life Lessons From Gardening
When I first started to learn to code, I was informed by the bright neon coloured advert that I would be I would be “job ready within 6 months”.
A year and a bit in, I still don’t know what I’m doing. Learning to code for me has been a bit like watching ‘Inception’ – just when I thought that I understood the movie, my mate came along and told me something about that 10 second scene that gave the film a whole new meaning to me. But… I am making progress. I’m in a state of “comfortable confusion” – I still don’t know what I’m doing but I am having fun doing it. In honour of Papa WebDev here’s 2 things I picked up that has helped me in my journey.
1) Be Patient
In our garden we had an apple tree that produced the most sour apples that you could ever taste. It’s like an apple tree had a secret affair with a lemon tree and our tree was the lovechild. I recently discovered that from being planted to producing fruit, an apple tree takes 6 years to mature. Yet The Old Man was patient and stuck to his schedule. Everyday from 6pm to 7pm, he tended to that tree and the garden, trusting that it will produce crop.
Sometimes I get impatient with coding and I want to throw a hadoken at the computer screen but I remind myself that there is always a lagtime between planting and harvest.
2) Weed and Protect
Patience doesn’t mean being passive. it’s not like you plant things in the ground and you forget all about it. My Old Man, when the shoots started to come up, would regularly, walk around the garden, pulling out weeds, repairing holes in our fence and put special barriers around certain plants. The Old Man explained that when plants are young, they are weak and insects and animals can quickly gobble them up. Weeds can grow next to them and suck up all the nutrients from the soil, starving them before they mature – you have to “protect the garden, or you lose the garden”.
Likewise whenever I have tried to make a positive change in my life, certain ‘weeds’ like bad habits, people and circumstances seem to come up that stops me hitting my goals. It takes daily effort to keep on doing the positive actions that will make my life better and not to be sidetracked.
Not Shaken But Stirred
I’m not patient person. give me the Hollywood version of life any day of the week. But an entire life doesn’t fit well into 3 hours.
I read an article where the current Head of MI6 said if James Bond was a real person, he would never make it as a Secret Agent because he known for taking ‘moral shortcuts’. Even in the real world, the ‘James Bond Way’ wouldn’t work.
As much as I would like to be Mark Zuckerberg in the 180 minutes it takes for Daniel Craig to complete his mission, I know that deep down my Old Man was bang on the money with his approach. I’m hitting the Dip in learning to code but rather than giving me a shaken Martini, Bond Girl and PP7 pistol, give me the battered jeans and tatty shirt and one day, I too can taste the crop that was planted by my hand.
I think I get it now Pops. Thank you Old Man.
As always thank you for reading! Which one are you: A Secret Agent or a Gardener? Leave your comments below and/or tweet at me @karlwebdev.
See you next Thursday!