The Road Less Traveled

“Confronting and solving problems is a painful process which most of us attempt to avoid. And the very avoidance results in greater pain and inability to grow both mentally and spiritually”. Does it remember you something? Root cause analysis, Domain Driven Design and so many practices in IT are about solving the problems instead of fixing the consequences. Actually, I think it’s the difference between a young and an experienced developer. The young dev wants to hack a solution as fast as possible. The experienced dev will use this time to analyze the problem, because when it is done correctly, building the solution will be “trivial”.
The passionate thing about The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck is that it’s a book written by a passionate psychiatrist, drawing heavily on his own professional experience. It’s all about human relationships, and the incredible number of lessons from this book we can directly apply in our software developer job should be a huge warning for people arguing that we must be technical monkey.

Discipline

Seems familiar again? That’s the very first section of his book. Through different experiences he explained how discipline is important to grow as an adult, and how most of us stay children. Each time we refuse responsibilities, each time we look for the easy solution instead of a more permanent one, each time we take a direct gratification instead of investing in a delayed but greater one, we are acting like children. This book brings us this hard truth: being an adult is not fun, and nobody will help or prepare you to become one. But fleeing our responsibility results in pain. That’s why discipline is required to grow as an adult, even if it hurts.

Love

This one is a bit far away from software development, but important for mind growing. In a nutshell, the author tries to define love: true genuine love. Not the one you think to know when you’re 16 years old and discover the opposite sex. True genuine love is the unconditional love we have for our children for instance. This kind of love does not require anything from the loved one, it does not have to be mutual. It’s just something you give to someone. This kind of love is hard, and usually not what we’re used dealing with. It excludes the myth of “love at first sight”, because genuine love requires a deep understanding and respect of the loved one. The author explains that this kind of love is the one that can stand for life.

Religion and Grace?

The two other sections use some words that make me very careful… Religion, Grace… I believed this psychiatrist was a scientific man? But the reading was still really pleasant. The author is not trying to convince you of anything (even if he personally believed in god, or at least in something bigger than us). Again, he drew on his experience to relate some stories were religion drive people crazy. And some stories were these same religions literally save people. And grace is about all these things that we observe but can’t explain. What’s the link with psychiatry and psychology? Well, to be happy you need to accept that you won’t understand the world.

Yet another must read

It will not be the book that will make you a better developer technically. But we can feel the passion of the author through chapters, and his feedback on human relationships are priceless. It helps me to realize how much the job of a software developer is driven by people’s relationships, more than by anything else.

I highly recommend it.

 
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