The Snow Blowing Machine

Winter in North America involves shoveling snow. Being born and raised in a tropical country, I had no clue about how to deal with this cold, crushed ice-like substance falling from the sky. Until I had to clear my driveway so I can get my car out of the garage.

Watching other people dealing with the snow in their driveway, I notice something. Many (including me) use a shovel to clear the snow. We endure the freezing cold weather to remove snow from our driveway – chipping off ice formations and pouring salt –  just so we can get on with our day. A few have snow blowers, a gas- or electric- powered machine that will suck snow from one area (in my case, the driveway) and direct it to another area.

Guess who gets the most out of their winter mornings?

It’s those with the snow blower. Those using shovels would take hours to clear their driveway while those with snow blowers can be done in minutes. It doesn’t matter how skillful you can be with clearing snow on your driveway – you’re still using a shovel. Your ability to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in your breakfast table on a chilly winter morning is hindered by that one thing: the shovel.

But then I noticed one more thing: a horizontal stick with a name and phone number placed at the end of a driveway. It’s from a snow removal company and every driveway that has the stick gets serviced. No more shoveling nor clearing the snow using a snow blower. The snow removal company will do it for you. Then they will do it for other people in the neighborhood.

As technology professionals, we get so caught up with “our shovel.” It’s the skill that we worked hard to learn, the tool that we prefer to use, the mindset that we carry around with us. We get so comfortable with “our shovel” that we forget there are better ways to do things.

  • the operations engineer who would rather handle tickets than analyze what caused them in the first place
  • the database administrator who would rather deal with failed jobs and backups than learn analytics
  • the developer who would rather write code than properly communicate with the team and present his ideas
  • the senior engineer who would rather design systems than learn leadership principles and accept the promotion

Becoming really good at using “our shovels” is not the issue. It’s believing that “our shovels” are the ultimate goal. I think it’s because we feel a sense of significance, knowing that we are really good at something. Or maybe because we are afraid of trying out new things and feel like a beginner all over again.

Is your shovel holding you back?

P.S. My shovel is still in my basement and a snow removal company is clearing the snow on my driveway. I now have the extra time to work on possibly starting another company.  



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