Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
What Does It Mean To Love What You Do? (danshipper.com)
36 points by dshipper on March 18, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 23 comments

Love is a verb, not a noun.

Love isn't desire for possession of something.

Love is action, not bottled and shown around.

Painters shows love for painting, by painting.

Writers show love for writing by writing.

Designers show love for designing, by designing.

Coders, too, show love for coding, by coding.

Deeper loves come from deeper connection with your art. Deeper love comes from developing your connection with your art in all ways.

Coders shouldn't just code, but love understanding everything that is around it.

Painters seek to understand deeper, and then express the world around them.

Writers seek to understand deeper, and then express the world around them.

Love is seeking, spreading, creating, providing, support, love, for the sake of love. Love is choosing possibility over doubt. Love is choosing creativity before logic and finding a way. Love is protecting creativity and ideas so much so that they may quiver towards the sky, much like we quiver in relationships involving love.

To put it simply (and still not scratch the surface); love is creating, experiencing, for the sake of creation, experience, and learning.


Beautiful. Thanks for sharing that :)

Glad you enjoyed. :)

I just wish I wasn't half groggy with a cold when writing it and left some typos in it.

How about we start from something simpler: "Don't hate what you do." Once you start there, perhaps you will find love/passion, or at least become more productive.

I've known too many people who secretly hated what they do for a living. I suppose it's fine if you already have a beautiful wife/children/life outside work to compensate, but hating your work is not the best way to begin your career.

I agree that another way to look at it is "don't hate what you do" although I feel like a post about that would be aimed at a different group of people.

When I wrote this it was more directed at people who feel a little bit lost, and are wondering why they haven't found that one "thing" that they're passionate about. It's about telling them that they don't have to search so hard for it because it's probably right in front of them right now.

I think people that hate what they do are in a slightly different (though similar boat). Sometimes hating what you do can actually crystallize exactly what it is you love (because you can't do it as much anymore) and so I feel like the problem that those people face is more making the leap to spend time doing what you love even if it means taking more risk.

Thanks for sharing - I really agree with your point.

I agree, the problem many people face today is the perspective and position they take in finding what they love. If they started from the point of not hating what they do they could really open themselves to the important concepts around them.

The career we chose is also such an important choice that can change if we hate other aspects of our daily lives. By choosing a career or business that we don't "hate" it can help us all construct a stronger and more positive way to find what we love and make those things the primary things in our life.

I think an additional benefit of your perspective is that it allows the person to merely like what they do a lot. When it's phrased as "love" being the goal, it becomes ideological. Not having Perfect Love, whatever that is, about your work is not the end of the world. "How to Love What You Do" is very much in the "You Lost Him at Hello" negative self-help mindset.

Thank you for this. This is exactly how I feel about programming, and about love. I’m 21, finishing my fourth and final year of college, and have been programming since around 10 as well, so far as I can recall. When I started, it was just something I did because it was fun to make stuff—web pages, games, toy languages, that sort of thing. It wasn’t until probably 2006 that I realised how it had grown on me, so much that I really don’t want to imagine my life without it. Any skills or knowledge I have gained are owed to the obsession of one smitten.

To quote Tim Minchin (If I Didn’t Have You):

“If I may conjecture a further objection, love is nothing to do with destined perfection. The connection is strengthened, the affection simply grows over time, like a flower, or a mushroom, or a guinea pig, or a vine, or a sponge, or bigotry. Or a banana. And love is made more powerful by the ongoing drama of shared experience and synergy, and symbiotic empathy. Or…something.”

That about sums up my feeling on the matter.

Excellent post, Dan. Enjoyed getting your perspective.


One of the hardest things about identifying what you love is acknowledging that it is rarely black and white. Yet people + media romanticize a notion of "perfect" love that has no lows or flaws, and the average person buys into this. As a result, we often feel as though we still haven't found what we love because it's not an unequivocal love.

With hacking, there will always be frustrating bugs and grunt work.

With romantic love, there will always be ugly fights and unappealing compromises.

And so on.

It would be disingenuous for people to say that they love commenting their code or that they enjoy every bit of arguing with their significant other. But having the wisdom to know yourself and accurately "measure" the extent to which you love something relative to other experiences in life is tremendously powerful.

Thanks Jason! Great point - loving what you do doesn't mean that you love every part of it, or every second of it - saying that is usually just meaningless hyperbole. But if you truly love something you put up with the stuff that you don't like as much because doing so is the cost of producing something great, being with someone great, or becoming part of something bigger than yourself.

"Love doesn't start out as a hurricane that sweeps through your life and changes everything in an instant. It starts out as a seed. Barely alive, easily overlooked, fragile and small. But given attention love grows. Given proper care it sprouts and springs up through the dirt. Given years to blossom it buds flowers and grows branches, snaking its way through your life until it consumes it entirely. Given enough care the thing that you love becomes the lens through which you see the world. "

I might borrow this next time I have to give a toast at a wedding or a rehearsal dinner. I don't have to mention to anyone it's career advice... :)

If that works for you great but that's not how it worked for me. I didn't have to think "do I love coding?" I just did it from 8th grade onward because it was extremely fun for me.

Similarly for relationships. I've been in love before and I didn't have to ask myself "am I in love" I just knew it "balls to bones" as Neo was told by the Oracle.

I didn't have to just keep doing it at wondering if this was really my thing. It was my thing without thinking.

I think he's talking about people who never really jumped into programming. I had an XDCC server up and running by 5th grade, and my own website with decent traffic by 6th. Then I went a different route with my technical affinity.

Now I'm back, realizing that this is the path I wish I would have taken; and, instead of lamenting or trying to find other things to fill the programming void, I'm going for it.

Sure, it's not as fun - yet - as I remember. But I know that in the end, this is what I want to do.

You've been coding for 10 years and you're a sophomore?!

I'm a sophomore at 19yrs old and that would mean I would have to have been coding since age 9...

Yup I'm 20 and started when I was 10. It's been a good 10 years :)

Do any other beginners / wannabies get really depressed when hearing about such a head start? :) Keep rocking.

10 years doesn't necessarily mean all that much. You might have only 3-4 years of experience, but if it's good experience, it'll beat the pants off 10 years of crap experience. Not saying anything about dshipper's situation, just in general length of time doing something doesn't necessarily make you that much better.

I say this as someone who's been working with software for 30 years, professionally for 17 years. I've gotten a lot better over the 17 years, thanks to many of the experiences and time I spent learning things. I've also been playing guitar for over 20 years, and am still pretty lousy at that. :)

Agree completely - the length of time has nothing to do with the quality of your work. I have a friend who started coding a year ago and is in YC right now as the main technical founder. I'd say I've learned more about entrepreneurship and coding in the past year than I did over the past 4-5 combined.

How'd he manage that? It's quite impressive.

Hard work and willingness to put himself out there.

Don't be too depressed. I've been programming in some measure since I was ~4, and I'm 23 now. Many of those years were me slowly teaching myself, because I had no mentors.

It's really not about time, it's about projects and people. You learn by doing, not by time spent. Don't worry about it.

Good point.

I've been programming since the age of 9, and I'm well into my 40s.

What that statement doesn't say is that for some of those years I learned very little (even though I was spending some of that time coding, I wasn't really "doing" anything; I.e., wasn't learning).

What really matters is doing quality work, making quality mistakes (so to speak), and learning from that and from other good engineers around you.

Don't be. Coding at age 10/5/2/whatever is usually copying straight off books, and/or devising the most simple and crude software. It's no indicator of future ability, and frankly it usually is mentioned as a form of adolescent chest thumbing.

Just keep programming, you'll catch up in no time.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact