Between Linux and Anime

Kind of like Schrodinger's Cat

Just DO it

This is kind of random, but I just had a conversation with a friend and ended up telling a ‘story’ of sorts that I think is worth reposting here. Here it is, slightly abridged, after the jump.

on whether we can MAKE ourselves care and move

yknow I used to be this cute little averagely competent (I hope) kid who takes my responsibilities quite seriously, work genuinely on them and when things look bleak and hopeless, will get sad and discouraged, will try to go on working hard, without too much success

I think a good group of people are also like that

which isn’t that bad, but isn’t so good either

but I think I’ve changed somewhat since then :) , and I think I largely have one of my Professors to thank for that.

that guy’s a little of a workaholic. He does some *really* insane things – and he pulls it off

I was really impressed and started thinking if there was something about his mentality that is giving him this power

then I started working for him

you probably know, we have this student organisation here in NUS where we build IT systems for charity organisations. This is one of the insane projects that he randomly fired off by the way

and I was team lead summer last year, and damn, team lead is a damn shitty job :P

but he used to chat with us poor, harassed, overworked team leads (me and another guy, we had 2 teams on 2 projects)

and he asked us why he *knows* he could run the organisation

we do some crazy shit in the summer. We design, build and deliver quality IT systems of a scale that industry players would never dare to take on in three months

and he told us that he had absolute faith that it isn’t a problem, because he had the right people. He *knew* that, somehow some way, we can and will get the job done

and we did :) but I think what he said had a profound effect, it made me think I CAN and WILL get the job done nicely

and since then I’ve come to realize what a difference it can make if you told yourself ‘I WILL get this done’

It’s not “I’m going to try” or even “I’m going to give it all I’ve got”

it is “It WILL get done”

I found that there is a difference.

When things screw up and go bad, if you grit your teeth and tell yourself “It WILL get done” – the darn problem DOES get solved; but when you just say “I’ll try my best and see” – it won’t

it’s all about telling yourself the nike motto – “Just DO it”

or, as my prof is fond of quoting – “Do, or Do Not. There is no try”

so at least this is my experience

I’ve done things when I was a cute naive kid in secondary school and I’ve done things when I’ve ‘awakened’ in University, and I’ve been through a good number of experiences where I have managed to turn a bad screw up all the way around into a something I could be proud of, because I wouldn’t have anything less

and my impression is this: you CAN move yourself beyond what you THINK you can by just GOING and DOING it without thinking about whether you’re gonna make it or not

okay, I’m done

not sure how relevant that was :P but hope you get something out of it

moral of story – Nike’s motto, “Just DO it”

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AFA 09 (not so) Quick Cover


Anisong: Soba ni Irareru Dake de


  1. Nice post. It certainly is true that I procrastinate to much and would benefit a lot from just buckling down. It’s good to see there are still teachers that can alter our very outlook on life. It’s probably a good think there aren’t any pictures here that would make me lose blood from my nose. It would be distracting.

  2. Jason "moofang"

    Haha! Well, I don’t have many great pics, and I randomly decided to post this up in the wee hours of the morning before turning in, so my brain wasn’t up to the task of thinking about whether suitable pictures could be found for it :)

    We end up under the tutelage of plenty of teachers in our school life nowadays, but Good teachers (that’s a higher level than ‘decent’ teachers) are pretty hard to come by, unfortunately.

  3. Good read buddy! I do agree with you mostly, however,

    School and volunteer project don’t suffer from the 3 constraints of project management (Cost, Quality, Time). You can only achieve 2 at time and planning is important. Cost is not a problem with all these projects but real IT project has budget and you need to hire more people or overtime your staff to keep up with schedule. Harassed or overworked will lower morale of the team anyway, but it works for people instrinstic motivation and discipline like yourself. Prima donna team members will further make it worse. The cone of uncertainty will not narrow itself. You must refine/force the cone to narrow by removing sources of variability.

    I don’t like to underestimate even it is a matter of professional pride, and my planning isn’t great to boost. It reduced effectiveness of project plans and statistically reduced chance of on-time completion. Poor technical foundation leads to worse-than-normal quality and destructive late-project dynamics further worsen the project quality. Overestimation can be addressed with planning and control.

    Scorn me ceaselessly D:

  4. Jason "moofang"

    Thanks for the comment!

    I need to point out that you’re too quick to judge when you said volunteer projects don’t suffer from the three. We do – the cost factor is reduced but this is also a result of management. We do insane stuff in the summer, but we can only keep up that morale to overtime and overclock to attain our standards of quality by keeping the focus on altruism, relevance and PRIDE – that last isn’t an accident and is meticulously and deliberately cultivated at management level.

    And with that I want to clarify here that JUST DO IT does NOT mean pushing yourself to the limit – it means GETTING THE JOB DONE, there is a difference. It doesn’t mean insistently bashing yourself up against a wall (or harassing/overworking your team mates), it means, most of all, THINKING. What is the optimal way to get things done? Is there a better way? What’s hindering me? what are my choices for getting around it? Which one can I reliably provision given my resources? As you said: “The cone of uncertainty will not narrow itself. You must refine/force the cone to narrow by removing sources of variability.” That’s precisely what getting the job done is about.

    The idea in summary is once you commit to doing something, think and ask and plan and hack – get it done. The only kind of failure that is acceptable is when you’re convinced the task is IMPOSSIBLE, for everything else, get it done, do whatever is necessary.

  5. So… your Professor is Yoda?

    Anyway, that is a good post, and a good motto to live by. Thank god I don’t live by that motto though, my stupid brain would twist it into something twisty – and I would forfeit all my relax time and slowly go insane. -_-

  6. Jason "moofang"

    Hehe, maybe he was Yoda’s padawan or something ^^ Come to think of it he is fond of Jedi references, and I remember a good number of his slides featuring that quote with an accompanying, saber-brandishing Yoda.

    I don’t really consider it a ‘motto to live by’ – we all have to do some work from time to time whether we like it or not, this is just kinda a good motto to have to get that work done and done properly so you don’t lose sleep over it later :P Plus I’m inclined to think that doing the stuff you need to do well actually *helps* your sanity in the long run.

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