Posts Tagged ‘fate’


Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
Sep 27 2009

I went to see the new version of the movie “Fame” this afternoon with my wife and daughters.

I will say that I loved the movie, and plan to see it again.

It raised some interesting feelings and thoughts for me, which tie into a talk I gave at St. Edwards University Career Symposium on Friday.

I should mention that when I was growing up in New York, I applied to and auditioned for the High School of the Performing Arts, on which the movies have been based.  I didn’t make it.  I didn’t have the talent or skill necessary. Watching the movie led me to wonder what would happened had I gotten in.

There are some great messages in the movie. Jennie’s monologue about success toward the end is a wonderful piece of writing.

What it brought up for me was that many of the things that helped to determine the direction of my life and career have been pretty random.

I moved to San Francisco after college, because that’s where my two best friends settled after driving across the country.  I met my wife, started graduate school, got a crummy job, fell into the computer industry, moved to Silicon Valley, had children, started my martial arts studies, had a heart attack, changed my view of life and the world… and all because my friends ended up in San Francisco.

Professionally, I left that first job at Control Data and went to my first startup in Silicon Valley.  That led me to other startups, my own company, my move to Austin, and ultimately my job at ThoughtWorks.  None of these things could have happened without the others preceding them, and yet it all seems so random.

So here’s the thought for my readers: are there ANY decisions you’ve made in your life that have NOT helped to determine the path of your life? Whether big ones like which school you attend or who you date or marry, or little ones like whether to go to the movies this afternoon.

After all, going to the movies today may shift my perspective on something else, which will influence a decision I’ll make, which will lead me…  well, you get the idea.

Every interaction I have with someone else has the potential to change their life or mine or both. While this is an awful responsibility, it’s also an awesome opportunity.  It shouldn’t freeze me. It SHOULD lead me to think about the things I say and do and how I say and do them.

I had an interesting small example of this when I was at Agile2009.  Walking to dinner with a group of people, most of whom I’d never met either physically or vitrually, I began introducing myself.  There were these two fellows from Finland.  As I introduced myself to the second, he said “Doc?  Doc LIST?”

Who knows what impact things I’ve said have had on him, or could have on him.  The fact that he knew who I am was pretty stunning. Thank goodness he seemed happy to meet me. 🙂

Remember my name.

I’m gonna live forever
I’m gonna learn how to fly

I feel it coming together
People will see me and cry

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