Today, I was reading about Les Brown – a well known motivational speaker and former member of the House of Representatives. One of the quotes that was attributed to him was “develop the habit of setting the standard that others will be measured by.” Those are great words to live by. When I started taking martial arts classes well over a decade ago, I trained hard to be the best I could be. Then, when it was time to test for black belt, I nailed it. In fact, I did so well that the way I did things became the standard way the school continues to test for black belt. When I attend classes, I still hear it mentioned that we do it that way because Mr. Gerlach did it that way. What a great sense of pride it brings to be the standard that everyone else has been measured by for the last decade. But that idea extends well past our hobbies – it extends to everything we do. Do you set the standard of excellence at your workplace, or do you work just hard enough to not get fired? In marriage, do you set the standard for what a good spouse does? What about parenting? When people look at you, are you an inspiration or a cautionary tale?
As a programmer, I want my code to set the standard of excellence for the organization I’m working for. As such, I spend time honing my skills, improving my knowledge, practicing my trade, whatever it takes to be the best of the best. Just like setting the standard for martial arts, I want to set the standard in writing good code. I want the next generation to look to my code as the yardstick that other projects are measured against.