Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Air-cover

Throughout my life there have been people who were willing to give me a shot just when it seemed that no one ever would. By 'give me a shot', I mean give me a chance to do what I do the way I do it. It's great when people lend a hand to help you out. It's great when people provide you opportunity. For me, the greatest gifts have come from people who decided to just let me do me. I don't have words to adequately express my gratitude.

It might not seem like much, letting someone just be who they are or do what they do, but it my case, well, it is. The way I think about things, the way I approach problems, the way I implement solutions, well, it's not normal. It's not even not-normal; it's completely different (or wrong, depending on your perspective.) I can't tell you how many times after having done something, someone told me, "That shouldn't have worked."

For example, I have no problem conceiving a musical score and then jotting it down on paper. I can play on piano pretty much anything I can hear. Yet, I can't sightread even the most basic piano music. I write software like a one of those sketch artists who'll draw your portrait for a couple bucks. I don't think about it or design it or lay it out; I just look at what I want to create and start drawing. I just draw in code, not pencil or charcoal.

Anyway, giving me a shot can be risky, at least perceivably so. If you were thinking of hiring me or having me work on a project, all the informed and educated people would tell you that it's a bad idea, that I don't grasp the proper methods and techniques, that to hire me would be a mistake So, you'd have to be willing to go against the wisdom of the experts.

The thing that is most impressive to me about many of the people who've given me a shot is that they themselves didn't understand how I do what I do or why it works. Someone is thinking about hiring me or bringing me onto a project. All her local experts are telling her that it's a bad idea. She has no idea how what I'm saying I can do can actually be done. Yet, she decides to hire me and lets me do it my way.

My friend Jonathan was one of those people. We were as opposite as you can get. He didn't understand how I do what I do. But it didn't matter to him because he didn't need to. When others would complain that I wasn't "following the rules", he'd tell them to back off saying things like, "Yeah, but he gets results."

When I'd get frustrated with an overly zealous manager who had decided to manage me, Jonathan would explain, "Look, he can't even conceive of being able to work the way you do", adding, "And you can't conceive of not working that way. You're not going to get him to get it. Don't worry about it."

We used to call what Jonathan and others did for me and people like me, air-cover. Sometimes you need someone high above watching out for you and clearing the way of well-intentioned obstacles. Sometimes, you don't get that and things get a bit challenging.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this (either in this post or otherwise), but that's where I am.

Happy Tuesday,
Teflon

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