Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering Steve Irwin

I was truly saddened to hear of the freak accident that killed Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) recently. It took me a while to realize what I will miss most about Steve. After all, it was so easy for me to drop a quick impersonation into a class – “Crikey, mate! That’s a mean defect!”

The thing about Steve that will stay in my memory is his passion for what he did. He died doing what he loved and there is no way he could have lived without being immersed in nature. Twenty feet away from a crocodile just wouldn’t do for Steve. He had to have his arms wrapped around the croc. I saw him once crawl right up to the opening of a den of rattlesnakes. I live in rattlesnake country and one mile away is a comfortable distance for me.

In my test team leadership courses and tutorials, I discuss the importance of finding where people are passionate and then letting them do things they really love to do. However, the first thing is that people must have a passion for something. I think most people have at least one thing they really love to do. I pity those that don’t.

Passionate people do what they love to do and perform with excellence. They go the extra step to make sure things are right because 1) they love getting it right and 2) they don’t want to appear to be a novice.

A passionate customer service representative spends the extra time with a customer to make sure things are right and gives friendly service, not treat a customer like they just interrupted Monday Night Football.

A passionate delivery person doesn’t leave perishable items on the doorstep in 100 plus degree heat without ringing the doorbell.

I think you get what I mean.

There's a great little book called "The Fred Factor" which I highly recommend. It's a true story about a postman named Fred that does an ordinary job in an exceptional way.

A passionate software tester looks for ways to improve their craft. They mentor other testers and contribute to the profession. They take pride in what they do. They don’t blame others for mistakes. Instead, they learn and improve from them.

I love what I do. (A special shout out to American Airlines “That’s why I fly!”) It means a lot to me when others see that I have passion for what I do. Sometimes people will comment on a class evaluation that they can tell I am passionate about software testing. I know that may seem odd that something as detailed (and sometimes boring) as software testing would float my boat.

Software testing is just the vehicle. What I love is to help people be their personal best so they will have a better job and live. I love helping people that create software find, or better yet, avoid, the problems that may one day cause a user to experience problems, perhaps even injury or death.

I personally hate defective software and the ensuing frustration, but I really love being part of the solution instead of the problem. So, as an honor to Steve Irwin and his contribution to this world, I invite you to join me in praying for Steve’s family and reflecting on:

“What am I passionate about?”

“How can I do more of what I love?”

“Do others see my passion for what I do?”

I’m sure that honors Steve’s life and keep his memory going in our own lives.

At the end of the day, there is much more to life than work. However, as a wise person once said, "If you love what you do, you'll never work another day in your life." As I say, love what you do, but before that, love those around you.

By the way, remember the movie "City Slickers?" Passion is that "one thing" that you care about more than anything else.

Take care and have a blessed day,


Links of Interest

Here’s an interesting link. It’s the text of a commencement address given by Steve Jobs that echoes this theme:

Here’s a link about “How to Do What You Love by Paul Graham:

Randy Rice's Software Testing & Quality Blog