I can trace this all back to a conversation I was having with a coworker at Microsoft. They would rotate the specials in the cafeteria. Today we were having Greek style roasted chicken. And then the realization just kind of snuck up on me, like the delicate aftertaste of lemon and cucumber from the chicken. The unique value that I had wasn't my programming skills, it was the fact that just five years ago I was struggling from job to job, with no skills after dropping out of high school, with only some vague dreams of getting into a cooking school somehow.
When I was young I grew up in an environment with little hope. That I was the sum of the things that happened to me, and that I had no control over this. Things were the way they were and you couldn't change them, you would only get better at accepting them. If you didn't get good grades, then there wasn't much hope for you. You'd be striving to be a manager at BlockBuster. Guessing the movie titles for customers that have that actor who was in The Hangover, you know, the one who was also in that another funny movie with Will Ferrell. Giving awkward lectures to teenagers who got caught with Swedish Fish in their pockets as they strolled out.
This belief was very distressing to me, as I tried in school but never had much success. I was envious of others who seemed to glide through their classes without any worry, while I would struggle so much and fumble. I was ingrained with that idea. The worst thing was that I believed this, that I was just going to become more of what I have been doing. That I would struggle for the rest of my life with the person that I am, with the flaws that I had. I felt like I was standing at the shore looking out at the water. Looking out at that unknown. Then I was being called back to the town because a storm was coming, not even questioning that I had to return. Only vaguely aware that I would never return to the shore. Though I didn't want to face this thought. Too painful.
I dropped out of high school and floated around for many years getting whatever job I could find, wondering when my luck was going to change, when I was going to get a break. I was both cautious of aspiring for anything, but I was also skeptical that things could really be so bad.
I had settled into a fuzzy plan of becoming a cook. Perhaps getting an apartment by the beach, because surfing is fun. I decided that if I had these things that then I would be happy. Instead I kept getting fired from job to job because of my inability to focus on what I needed to improve and grow, because of my lack of skills, because of my lack of a degree and certifications. How could I change the course without a degree like all those lucky people that got to go to college? I spent many years in foggy depressive motions, just sticking around to see if things go better.
Things began to change when by coincidence I would become inspired and work on the things that I know I should be doing. I would end up feeling very good afterwards with myself. With what I have done. Sometimes I would even become aware of this amazing feeling while working, where time would seem to distort. The hours blurring into new wondrous worlds between blinks of an eye. And yet everything seemed to happen in slow motion. The thoughts in my mind would become silent and instead become abstract and intricate. I later discovered that this feeling is what people at the top of their professions experience routinely.
After a couple of those experiences, I became fascinated with the idea, of figuring it out. Not only was I moving towards a better life, a better tomorrow, but the process itself felt amazing. I began to have questions like: How can I experience more of this feeling of flow, or of fulfillment? How can I inspire myself to enter the flow whenever? How can I make myself do the things that I know I should be doing, even when I don't feel like doing it?
During this time, Watership Planner was created as a personal project because I was unable to find a suitable tool to manage the chaos of all the projects that I wanted to do in life. To keep me focused, and in flow, with what was most important. To offer insight into growth and improvement. It was never meant to be a public project. However as I had success with it at my job, people would ask about it and I'd explain it to them. They began to use it and have success with it as well. I realized that it could help others as well.