I have a hard time justifying my efforts towards anything I don’t own. The longer I’m an independent developer the more this gnaws at me. And I mean independent in the sense of working on my own projects, being my own boss. Not the freelance type of independent… I’m a horrible freelance developer for the very reason my only motivation in those scenarios is usually money.
Looking back I’ve always been drawn to activities or jobs where my effort was directly related to the overall sucess of the endeavor. In high school at the age of 14 I was a decent basketball and baseball player. I gave up on baseball and focused all my effort on basketball. Basketball is well known as being a team sport where individuals are most able to influence the outcome. At the time these thoughts had nothing to do with my decisions, a 14 year old kid doesn’t put a lot of thought into anything.
My first job out of college was working in the information technology bowels of a steel manufacturing company as a programmer / analyst. I lasted 9 months and jumped to a technology startup as the 30th employee. That experience showed me how much could get accomplished in the business world with a small team and highly focused effort. It also taught me no amount of effort can fix a product nobody wants. 
After that experience I tried my hand at consulting, another software company, IT department of a an insurance company, and finally landed at Pacejet, a small software company, as team lead. It was exactly what I was looking for at the time, autonomy and direct influence on how well the company performed. But again, I had almost no ownership related to the companies performance.
Which brings me to today, about 2 years removed from working for anybody but myself. When my wife and I made the move to Lagos, Nigeria the plan was always to stay on at Pacejet in some capacity. However, once I got here and was about 6 months removed from the situation I was once again reminded just how uninterested I am in freelance development.
Owning my Own Output
I’m 35 and I’ve realized I want to be successful for something I build myself. My time is not infinite and thus choices are required. Whether it be software projects, blog posts, or something as simple as a twitter account - own it. This doesn’t mean it has to be just me, I enjoy being part of teams but I need to have ownership.
Mark Cuban writes Don’t Follw Your Passion, Follow Your Effort:
If you really want to know where you destiny lies, look at where you apply your time. Time is the most valuable asset you don’t own. You may or may not realize it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you .
My effort is proportional to the amount of ownership. I’m going to own my time and effort and hopefully that will lead me to building something successful.
- Amazing technological feats do not a successful product make. ↩
- At the age of 23 the money was amazing and a bit of a motivator, that has passed. ↩
- Pacejet was an awesome opportunity in so many ways and I still consider this some of the best work I’ve done. ↩
- This could be stock options, profit sharing, whatever the vehicle it has to be compensation directly related to the success of the company. ↩