Fire And Motion

Fire And Motion

Posted by Aditya on Wed, 2008-11-12 22:23 in

Ever felt, what the heck am i doing? Am i going somewhere? Am i on the path of achieving whatever i would like to? And i am not writing this in parlance of only the professional career. This includes the personal goals one might have for themselves e.g. learning to play a musical instrument, running a marathon, learning foreign languages, helping out community, writing a book etc.

These thoughts do tend to cross once a while in my mind, and for me at least, the reason is an overt need of achieving targets (or measurable goals) at a reasonably fast pace. I tend to get a touch restless, if things are not happening quick enough or in some cases not happening at all.

This incredible essay - "Fire And Motion" written by Joel Spolsky, talks about a very simple and obvious strategy used by military to keep on gaining ground on the enemy.

In infantry battles, he told us, there is only one strategy: Fire and Motion. You move towards the enemy while firing your weapon. The firing forces him to keep his head down so he can't fire at you. (That's what the soldiers mean when they shout "cover me." It means, "fire at our enemy so he has to duck and can't fire at me while I run across this street, here." It works.) The motion allows you to conquer territory and get closer to your enemy, where your shots are much more likely to hit their target. If you're not moving, the enemy gets to decide what happens, which is not a good thing. If you're not firing, the enemy will fire at you, pinning you down.

And here is what's seemingly 'obvious' but very hard to write down in simple terms for most:

I remembered this for a long time. I noticed how almost every kind of military strategy, from air force dogfights to large scale naval maneuvers, is based on the idea of Fire and Motion. It took me another fifteen years to realize that the principle of Fire and Motion is how you get things done in life.You have to move forward a little bit, every day.

So, you see yourself after a few years settled in a nice hill station, running a ranch, writing a book for living and counting tigers in the nearby forest. The obvious question is, what are you doing currently to help you achieve those goals. Bit by bit, are you building yourself up for where you want to be?

If the answer is yes, then hey, take it easy, you are on the right track. As they say, Rome was not built in a day, and don't be too hard on yourself to get everything very quick. It's not a race with anyone else, and you only got to go as fast as you can along with enjoying the present.

p.s. On a tangential note, this essay has a spot on description of the programmer routine at times. :-)

Sometimes I just can't get anything done. Sure, I come into the office, putter around, check my email every ten seconds, read the web, even do a few brainless tasks like paying the American Express bill. But getting back into the flow of writing code just doesn't happen. These bouts of unproductiveness usually last for a day or two. But there have been times in my career as a developer when I went for weeks at a time without being able to get anything done. As they say, I'm not in flow. I'm not in the zone. I'm not anywhere.


Amazing article...correctly describes what I feel at some point of time everyday...!!!

Posted by Manjeet (not verified) on Thu, 2008-11-13 20:54
"this essay has a spot on

"this essay has a spot on description of the programmer routine at times."
at times??? for some programmers it is "all the times" now:)
maybe they are no longer programmers :)

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 2008-11-17 14:26
I guess we really can't do

I guess we really can't do without a tough, unrelenting, hard to please kind of a program manager who chases you with a gun if one happens to miss the schedule .. :-)

Posted by Aditya on Tue, 2008-11-18 12:39