Recently the Utah .NET User Group had a roundtable discussion where anybody could ask or answer any relevant question. At one point the conversation drifted to “why aren’t there more people here” which is a valid point given that there were about 30 of us and there are certainly more .NET developers out there along the Wasatch Front than 30. One would also think with the economy and job market as it is, that people would jump at the opportunity to get some free trainig either because they had lost their job or were worried about it. There were various theories proposed but they were mostly based on the group speculating on others motivations which at a certain point became a somewhat futile exercise.
So in the next development meeting at my work, I through out the question, “why do you not go to the once a month user group meeting?” to find out what those .NET developers that weren’t coming thought. I was a little bit disappointed that the common answer was “I don’t have enough time.”
Why was I disappointed? Because this answer is a cop out. Consider these questions:
- Why don’t you exercise? I don’t have enough time.
- Why don’t you read (more) technical books? I don’t have enough time.
- Why don’t you watch more movies? I don’t have enough time.
- Why don’t you play more video games? I don’t have enough time.
So why is “I don’t have enough time” a cop out? Because what it really means is “I refuse to prioritize that high enough to do it” or “I’d rather be doing something else.” And even that is not good enough, I think. I think, for you individually you have to use the five whys technique.
Of the above list, those are all things that I’d like to do. Recently (almost three months ago) I decided to prioritize exercise and have been getting up early to do it. It’s something that I’ve known that I needed to do for some time but “I didn’t have the time.” Which really meant that I 1) valued extra sleep over exercise, 2) valued staying up playing games over exercise and 3) valued all the other things I was doing in life over exercise.
Now is that strictly true? Did I really value video/computer games over exercise? If you were to ask me a year ago, I probably would have said “exercise is more important that Civ IV” but my actions betrayed me.
So should I look down at my fellow developers that don’t attend the user group meetings? No, I don’t think so. If they have found other ways to develop their skills and forward their careers, that’s great. There are many activities out there that will give you a lot of value. If they don’t care and have other things that are more important in their lives, that’s great. But if they think it’s important (and specifically more important than some of the other things that they’re doing), then they need to get their actions in line with their priorities.