Timing is Everything


This post is the thirty-second part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series are:

This post is about…


My Granny used to say “Pick a way to be and be that way.” I’ve interpretted and applied that, and I say:

Be who you are.
Do what you are.

I was nominated for MVP in 2006 but not awarded. I remember talking to TBDDEOTP (The Best Damn Developer Evangelist On The Planet) G. Andrew Duthie (Blog | @DevHammer) about it. Andrew asked me point-blank: “Andy, why are you serving the community?” It was an in-your-face kind of question and it had the desired effect. After collecting my thoughts I said “I’m serving the community because others served me. I learned from them and now I want to give back.” Andrew’s reply: “Keep doing that. Recognition may or may not come. But you already have satisfaction – look at the lives and careers you’re impacting!” (I told you he’s TBDDEOTP!)

I was nominated again for MVP in 2007 as awarded 1 Apr. But Andrew was and is right: It can’t be about recognition.  

Goals Are Not Enough

“Why, Andy?” I’m glad you asked! Recognition is not fulfilling in and of itself. The victory is fleeting and the triumph hollow. You have to have a good reason for wanting to reach the goal.

What is Enough?

Another excellent question! The answer is purpose. Purpose denotes more than a mere goal. Goals serve purposes. Purposes impact lives, careers, and communities. Purposes help People!

This goes beyond mission statements. Mission statements are mostly designed, communicated, and then forgotten. That’s why I prefer missions over mission statements. Missions require missionaries – bold visionaries filled with conviction and unafraid of the consequences of their actions. Missionaries disrupt. They cause a stir. They Poke the Box.


This isn’t for everyone. It requires some tolerance for risk. You have to be willing to try, fail, and try again. And again. And again. You need to be able to harvest the lessons from the last outing – the good and bad; the flattering, humbling, and self-deprecating – and re-purpose those lessons into the next venture.

Easy? Goodness no. If it was easy anyone could do it. This mission is going to require someone with your unique skills, personality, and gumption.

See those folks ahead of you on the path? They’re no different than you. You’re no different from them. They started on the path earlier – that’s all. When you get started – when you accept the mission and purpose of becoming a box-poker-in-training – you will be ahead of those starting after you. There will be people behind you – who started after you – marvelling at your successes and accomplishments and ideas and initiative.

Get. Started. Now.

Are your ideas going to be awesome and make you a million bucks by the end of the year? Probably not. Overnight success takes about a decade. But you will never reach your potential sitting there reading blog posts. Do. Something. Now.

The odds are you will fail. That’s a good thing. Have you ever been around someone who never fails? People who never fail suck. Failing prepares you for success. It’s a prerequisite.

Don’t let something as small as failing stop you.

When’s the best time to start? How do you figure out the timing? That’s easy: Get. Started. Now.


PS. There is no Conclusion section to this post. Why? I don’t get to write the conclusion: you do. Start something. Then tell me what you’re starting. – Andy


Andy Leonard


Christian, husband, dad, grandpa, Data Philosopher, Data Engineer, Azure Data Factory, SSIS, and Biml guy. I was cloud before cloud was cool. :{>

4 thoughts on “Timing is Everything

  1. As always, great post Andy! One thing that struck me about Poking the Box is the 500lb gorilla in the room: fear. I’ve seen/heard many a time where you get someone who WANTS change, wants to make a difference but for whatever reason or another fear paralyzes the individual to move forward. Will there be a "Fear Factor" post in your series to help folks move past this barrier? 🙂

  2. I heard a saying recently that made a deep impression on me. "Those who are considered successful have failed many times. Those who are considered failures have usually failed just once." As a goalkeeper I learned I can’t make every save. Case in point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vla1X8LHUqQ . The goalkeeper never moved. Why not? There was no chance. But he didn’t give up being a goalkeeper after Rooney’s spectacular score. Why do we accept this as part of sports but not as part of life?

  3. "See those folks ahead of you on the path? They’re no different than you. You’re no different from them. They started on the path earlier – that’s all."
    Or they are travelling faster…

  4. "Overnight success takes about a decade." favorite quote ever.
    Jorge has a good point, Fear is a good post topic. My personal take is two-fold: 1) realize that the future consists of reactions to action taken in the present, therefore changing your present necessarily changes the future 2) As advocated by Tim Ferris in Four Hour Work Week, imagine the WORST POSSIBLE SITUATION that can happen, and try to decide how your fear really compares to that.
    @SQLChap – Doesn’t matter how fast the others are travelling, just matters that you’re moving forward. There will always be someone who is better at what you do than you, if not now, then later when they learn from your example and get to your level easier than you did. It’s not worth wasting time and energy thinking about it.

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