“I would sooner destroy a stained glass window than an artist like yourself. However, since I can’t have you follow me either…”The Dread Pirate Roberts (shh – actually it’s Wesley)

Wesley proceeds to bonk Inigo over the head (saber-whips him?) rather than killing him. It’s fortunate for Inigo that Wesley had such an appreciation for his art and the calibre of craftsman that he was fighting against. A lesser man may have gone ahead and destroyed the stained glass window.

In software – it’s not (at least in my experience) so dramatic – we don’t find ourselves in life or death situations based on the level of our craft. But an understanding and recognition of the level of our craft is an important and powerful thing. It’s almost like oxygen to our sense of contentedness with the world, to our self-worth, to the level of fun we’re having crafting software.

This is important for two reasons. Reason number one is that – the craftspeople that we work with share this need – and as we grow and progress in the craft, we are able to provide it for more and more people. The embedded thing here though is that we are only able to provide this oxygen to people whose level of craft we understand and can truly appreciate – folks that are at or below our level. And we should take every opportunity to do this – because it’s good to do this for our fellow human, and because it increases by untold amounts the effectiveness of those around us.

The second reason is because many times we will find ourselves going without oxygen. We need to recognize this – because if we are not careful, it can have massive negative effects on every part of our being – even including our physical health.

What can we do about this..

First – be aware that it is a thing. And be ready to remedy it when it happens. Second – know what some of the remedies are.

They include…

1) Holding your breath – we can for a time go without oxygen without permanent effects – know your limits, but be prepared to hold your breath.

2) Surrounding yourself with craftspeople that are at or ahead of your level. They are the only ones that will recognize your craft – and thus the only ones that can provide the much needed oxygen. This is a hard one though – it may mean leaving comfort for an ultimately better situation in a number of different ways; choosing a different team, engaging people that you don’t have a natural affinity for, or leaving an organization.