On the hard choices we make every day
Every morning when I wake up, I have choices to make. While I want to turn Acquia into a billion dollar company, I also want to grow Drupal to be the leading digital experience platform. Both are connected and some of the work overlaps, but it still requires me to decide how much of my energy to focus on my duties as the CTO of Acquia as well as my duties as the project lead of Drupal.
It has been a few years since I wrote a good amount of code and I miss the thrill of programming — both roles with Drupal and Acquia have evolved into management positions. Going back to writing software is a choice too, and one that I would undoubtedly enjoy. I think about it almost daily, and every time I decide not to.
At the same time, I also want to say 'yes' to the many invitations to travel the world, to speak at conferences, or to spend time with people I look up to. I also want to reply to all the emails I receive; I don't like it when emails fall through the cracks. I want to use my network and experience to advise other startups and Open Source projects. I'd love to increase my responsibilities as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum (I'm bummed I couldn't attend Davos last week) and contribute to solving some of humanity's biggest problems. Other times I ask myself; why not kick back and have more time with friends and family? That is really important too.
When I push open the drapes in the morning, I have choices to make. The choices looked simpler when I was younger — most days I don't remember having to make choices at all. But as my work has grown in reach and impact, the choices in front of me have expanded as well. Every day, I struggle with these choices and ask myself how to spread my energy. I realize I'm not alone, as I know many others that have tough choices to make.
My guiding principle is to optimize for impact, purpose and passion — it is a delicate and personal balance based on the belief that somehow all the dots will connect.
My deep-wired desire to optimize for impact has not been without challenges. It has been an extremely strong force pulling me away from other relative priorities involving family, friends and personal health. Recently, I've gotten better at making time for family, friends, eating well and exercising. There is no denying that every decision has trade-offs: when I choose to do one thing it means I choose not do something else. Not doing something means I let people down, and as more and more choices present itself over time, it means letting down more and more people as well. If I let you down, I hope you understand. And one of the people I let down is myself, as I may never write software myself again — it may never be the most impactful to do.
The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being. The organizations I'm building, the things I'm passionate about, the things I read about and the decisions I make will hopefully all lead to helping many more people. In turn, I hope that some of the people I have coached and worked with will pay it forward. Making choices is difficult but all in all, it's a wonderful feeling to see how many people I've touched by doing what I enjoy and love.
— Dries Buytaert
Dries Buytaert is an Open Source advocate and technology executive. More than 10,000 people are subscribed to his blog. Sign up to have new posts emailed to you or subscribe using RSS. Write to Dries Buytaert at firstname.lastname@example.org.