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Wise Words from Warren

The three most important lessons learned over a few decades as a developer.

Warren Harrison is one of my good, good friends. And today marks the last day he'll spend on my team, which makes me sad. (It also marks the first time someone has quit on me since I began managing developers, but we'll talk about that later.)

I met Warren in December 2013, just a few months into my very first web development job. We became good friends almost immediately. He taught me to give fewer fucks. He taught me to let go of what I can't control. He taught me that mental health is a real thing, and I should care about it. And he even brought me into the local music scene, found me a music partner, and helped us land gigs.

But perhaps most importantly, I regularly received the same advice from Warren that I had from my grandfather and still do from my mother: Never take life too seriously. In other words, don't forget to have a little fun along the way.

So when, in the last week of Warren's employment at Ample, I asked him to share the three most important lessons he's learned as a developer, he replied:

Homework on the last week of school? You're the worst teacher ever! 😛

But, of course, because he's the guy who'll always get the job done, he added the three more serious notes, which I liked enough that I felt I should share here. They were:

  1. You will make mistakes... sometimes huge ones... sometimes you will delete a month of work with the only option being to start again (true story). It's OK, part of the process, how you learn and often a large reminder to slow down.

  2. The "right" way to do something is on time and under/at budget. Pick your battles about the perfect piece of code. Don't obsess... especially when you can fix it later. At the end of the day, we're building solutions for people. Many will argue with this concept... you get to decide what keeps you (and your clients) happy.

  3. When you get stuck, can't find help, and realize you're an imposter and should never have been trusted with this problem in the first place... step away from the machine, watch some birds, go for a walk and for dog's sake, stop beating yourself up. This is your emotions taking over. They don't solve problems, so exorcise them however you need.

I love this advice. All of it. (So much so that I'm now finding myself writing an outline for a blog post about each one of these points.)

And he wrapped it up humbly, as he also always does:

While, I've "learned" these things, I still fail to apply them 100% of the time. That's OK, too. Just be aware of yourself and what keeps you happy.

So, once again, it all comes back to focusing on happiness. And I think that's what matters here. Do what makes you happy.

And don't forget to have a little fun along the way.

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