If you blog it they will come?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A lifetime of supporting roles

There are two types of people (for the sake of argument): those who thrust themselves into the spotlight, and those lean away from it.

I'm the latter. Maybe it's timidity, but perhaps not...

In sports, I was usually the defender, because I was better at reading an attack than creating one. But in music, I started off playing guitar, then picked up the bass so I could join a band with a talented singer/songwriter who needed a bass player.

In my work, I started off as a tester. Now I am a feature developer now but my comfort zone is at companies which have recently realized significant success and are building on it. I have not stuck my neck out at early, unproven startups.

Sometimes I want the limelight. I imagine a swift sprint upfield to score, stepping up on the monitors for a facemelting guitar solo, or launching some product in my free time that snowballs into an unprecedented one-man Silicon Valley success story, complete with magazine covers and a feature film.

But sticking to the shadows doesn't mean that you concede the act of creation.

In soccer, stopping an attack means setting the pace and the direction of the counterattack. And bass players know (few others do) that they are the ones really controlling the song  -- the tempo, energy, the complexity and direction.

And the developers who join a company well after its business model is demonstrated must be roadbuilders who not only pour asphalt over dirt roads, but design intersections and plan highways.

The world needs people who sparkle in the spotlight, but to mix metaphors, it's people like myself who may not always blaze the trail, but are ultimately steering the ship.