My responsibility on this planet as a person in tech

For the past few months, I’ve been doing a lot of self-discovery. The goal was to decide what I want from my life.

Borrowing Rob Siltanen’s  words – I want to belong to the group of people who push the human race forward. 

Think about it. The human race is being pushed forward by a handful of people in every generation. Right now, a few names in the tech industry are Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. 

In the recent past, it has been Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. 

Today we are living better lives because people like Marie Curie, Alexander Fleming, and the Wright brothers devoted their lives to a mission bigger than themselves. They didn’t put their well being first. 

Without such a handful of people, we would still be in the stone age. 

But there are millions of others who are making my everyday life smoother. We need both. 

Especially in 2020, a lot of people put their life on the line to make sure everyone else has a smooth life – the doctors, the farmers, the health workers, the cashier in the nearby supermarket, the police force, etc. The list goes on.

At present, I’m in a privileged position in life. It hasn’t been the case always. And there is no guaranty that it will stay like that. 

While I cannot directly help all of them, I can use the ultimate leverage – software. It doesn’t matter if it comes with the cost of work-life balance. The very fact that I can debate about work-life balance is a privilege by itself. 

If I have an annoying boss, I can quit my job and find another one. Imagine a cop, who has a bad boss. They have no choice but to endure it as long as possible. Think about a nursing staff who have to stay late caring for a sick person – they cannot complain about not having a perfect 8-hour sleep.

It does not mean not to take care of yourself. Please do. You have to be healthy and peaceful to achieve all the above. But it is ok to make small sacrifices for missions bigger than yourself.

Build software and improve lives

Software scales. The same software can be used by one person or a billion people.
I want to commit my life to building software and help people through that. And how do I do that? I have no idea. That’s something I need to figure out.
I need not improve the lives of a billion people, I can start with a few. It can even be indirect. I can run a company, give people jobs.

The chances of me getting there is close to zero.
But that is ok.
My responsibility is to try, not to succeed.
It might be something that takes multiple decades.
I can work towards it, one day at a time.
It gives me a sense of purpose.
I would rather try and fail than live a life where I never tried.

Whenever I feel low thinking about these things, there are two things I turn to. 

One is my partner. The other is this Apple ad.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

― Rob Siltanen

End note

Apart from all the famous names I mentioned, there are hundreds of people who inspire me everyday. People whom I know, people whom I personally don’t know – mostly via Twitter. Founders, artists, makers, investors, content creators and a lot of kind people. Thanks for all the inspiration.

Above all, be kind!

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