Success isn’t just about what you do. It’s at least as much, perhaps even more, about what you don’t do. There’s a lot that you have to hold back from doing to be successful, and I don’t just mean the things you know are wrong. A lot of good things, worthwhile, exciting things, have to be put aside so that you can focus on the handful of things that matter most.
I feel that pull constantly. Android is one of the things that pulls me. I remember that killer Saturday I spent at the Google campus, or I pull my phone out of my purse to read while waiting in the grocery line, and I remember all the app ideas I brainstormed, and how easy it is to adapt an application’s layout for different screen sizes. But I know I need to work on my kernel project for OPW, and I know why the kernel is a better path for me.
A thousand little day to day shoulds pull me in a thousand wasteful directions. One of the tires on my vehicle is slightly low. I’m probably wasting gas, but I don’t care. I’m a month into my new officer role with my main Toastmasters club, and I’m doing a crap job. So is mostly everyone else. They have lives, too. Inbox zero? You’ve got to be joking. My kitchen. OMG my kitchen. You don’t want to know.
These things add to my life, but they have to be kept in their place. My future employer won’t care about that puddle of oil on my pantry shelf. While she might care a little about how well I ran my club’s educational program, what she will really care about is how well I can code. The sweetness of that job, and of the completion of my project, will be remembered long after the mess in the kitchen (and the huge tip I give some neighborhood teenager to clean it up for me, once I’m hired) is forgotten.