The wisdom of good programming is pretty similar to the wisdom of good life. There are definitely people in life that are too theoretically minded to be any practical good, but practical seldom turns out to be a vice as long as it is accompanied with skill. So the saying, “when you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail” may be warning us to not be overzealous in swinging whatever power we’re given, but I would contend that in the world of programming a brain full of fantastic tools can certainly ensure there aren’t any loose planks in our projects. Yes, I am encouraging the zealots.
You see zeal is almost never the problem, it is zeal without knowledge that wrecks things. Or worse, the unintelligent whose sole skill appears to be the act of getting in the way. They are quick to bloviate, and raise “red flags” when they meet a zealot, but slow to accomplish any but the simplest of tasks. There are far too many folks out there that scream that the sky is falling as soon as they see a bit of ambition and enthusiasm. I love enthusiasm, it’s one of the things that are impossible to teach. I can teach a guy to code, but I can’t teach him to not be lazy. When character vs. competence, character is top of the list. I’m often amazed at how much energy the unskilled can put into debating a topic, while being completely incapable of contributing. It’s as if they feel that they are the brains, and the capable are just the “brawn”. However, the more capable the capable are, the more these leeches come out of the woodwork squealing in alarm. For good reason, someone who can actually “do”, will make them look like fools, and squeal all the more, like hungry piglets.
So, whatever your involvement in IT remember to spot the warning signs. Look for the guy who does little himself while criticizing the ones who do much. Listen for the empty claims and if you’re really lucky you might even catch a “When I was president I did it this way and it worked.” whopper. A good follow up to such a grand claim would be: “Can you provide references?” Or better yet: “Time to get your references together, lying like a child is not a trait we value here.”