If only your life is a WordPress project

Aug 9, 2008 by

A New Life in My Hand
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sea Frost

Do you dare to make your life an open source project?

Imagine your life is an open source project… Let’s say a WordPress project!

People will be able to download it from internet, check out your PHP source codes, modifying it with all sorts of plugins and themes, and making it a custom-made blog for them.

Do you dare to make your life the same way?

It’s an idea raised by my friend, Ferry, a.k.a The Lazy Koala. He is a smart guy with whom I shared much of my life stories during university days, and even many times after. He is a smart guy, a scholar in IT and software engineering field, an expert in developing open source project.

I was sharing how I lose faith in blogging and he was suggesting that it might be good if I practice doing it before writing it. Sharing it as I’m doing it, sharing it as if my life is an open source project (just like WordPress), open for others to review and contribute.

If you haven’t got an idea of what open source project is, check out the following definition from the home of open source project initiatives…

Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.
~Open Source Initiatives (www.opensource.org)

Now imagine a life similar to an open source project. It might also gives you greater rewards just as explained. But peer review and transparency? Mmm… that might be painful. Let’s take a look of what it takes for an open source project called LIFE.

Authenticity

There is this book titled Every Young Man’s battle from Stephen Arterburn & Fred Stoeker from which I learned about authenticity. There is one interesting question the authors asked: “What’s your aim in life? Authenticity or acceptance?” Acceptance asks himself, “how can I be accepted by people around me?” Authenticity instead, will ask, “How pure and holy I want to be?” The latter is not so popular because the price to be paid is higher. An open source project will reveal much of its work, the codes and materials it made from, no matter how good or how bad it is. While acceptance might be popular, authenticity is not so. While acceptance is living for other people’s value, authenticity is living for your own value.

Write what you believe, not what sells.
~Seth Godin

Accountability

Do you dare to be accountable to someone? Don’t you think it’s great to have a group to hear our story, share our burdens and excitements? Unfortunately, accountability is neither a pity-party nor a birthday-party. Accountability is more of a peer review.

Open source project needs a peer review, simply because it needs more than one expert’s knowledge to make a good software. Similarly, a good life is reviewed by other person.

My very first blog review is Evan’s, A blog for introverts (and others too) and it’s not simply a praise. I call it a constructive review because it both encourages and challenges me. He pointed out the positive things, yet he also pointed out the flaw I have with my blog (especially on my grammar and seriousness towards problem).

Accountability is not only a place where you can share your failure again and again without any changes. Accountability partner is there to both encourage you and challenge you. It’s the place where you can get the emotional fuel to move forward, to try again, to correct yourself, and not giving up.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up.
~King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Integrity

Is it the same you inside and outside? I learn a word today, it is “sinister”, something that is seemingly evil or dangerous. Similarly, do you kind of having another side of you, a sinister side that you try to hide from anyone else? Honesty is not integrity! John called integrity as consistency, how your actions match your values and thoughts.

I found consistency is a better definition of integrity; and if there is a profound example of that, it will be Mahatma Gandhi. Here is what Stephen M. R. Covey shared in the book The Speed of Trust, quoting his secretary (Mahadev Desai), as she responded to the reporters on how Gandhi was able to speak for 2 hours and brought an essentially hostile audience into a rousing standing ovation, without any notes accessible to him….

What Gandhi thinks, what he feels, what he says, and what he does are all the same. He does not need notes… You and I, we think one thing, feel another, say a third, and do a fourth, so we need notes and files to keep track.
~Mahadev Desai

And here is what Gandhi said about a life with integrity…

My life is an indivisible whole, and all my activities run into one another… My life is my message.
~Mahatma Gandhi

Flexibility

Open source projects usually make themselves open for community to contribute. It can be plugins, themes, extra features and configurations. It will also happen when you have open perspective about life. You can say that it is a flexible life, a life where you don’t judge others too easily and always looking forward to things you can learn from anyone.

Then, how about focus? A project is not supposed to be overloaded with whatever contribution that is available in the market. You need to pick it selectively, and apply only what is needed. It’s also the people-collector perspective I shared about before, especially when it’s hard to be focused. Collect what you think you may need, but use it one at a time.

Scott H. Young has a good term for this, which is theme. His article shared how you can stay focus by picking a single theme at one point of time and work on it. He started with a theme of building a habit, and then continues on relationship and people skill, and then building business as what he is doing now. It is both focus and flexibility that works in balance, the secret of the success that Scott has reached in blogosphere and personal life so far.

Learning process

To work well with an open source project, you need to learn more about it. And for that, you may consider finding the right documentation or tutor to help you.

It’s similar with life. To work well with life, you need to read more about your life. You need to know the purpose why God created this open source project (read: your life) in the beginning and what you suppose to do on earth. You also need to learn the psychology and subconscious process of what makes you who you are today, and eventually what you have to start doing to change your life. You may read it from bible and books, listen from inspirational and encouraging video and audio, or you may need to hire a life coach if you find difficulties.

Redistributable

As a software engineer, I used a lot of open source projects in my work. I have to thank them that my development work is much faster and effective with their contribution. I really appreciate what they give to the community, and even some of the great ones are there for free. Yes, open source project is redistributable, open for modification and distribution to someone else. You can even charge for some amount of money if you really make a great value out of it.

If your life is an open source project, your life is also meant to be redistributed to others. Your life is supposed to be an example to others how they should do their project (read: life) better. Its how we can help them in understanding the material they have got, it’s the knowledge we can impart for them to learn and ease their life. It’s how the project in our hand (read: life) can become a something useful one.

This article is written as a part of a group writing project WILF, What I Learn From… Metaphors of Life. Life is an open source project, trusted to us to be developed, to be used and to be redistributed to others. And as stated in the definition of an open source project above, an open source life will become one with a better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost to maintain, and out of selfish ambition. Don’t you want one? If you do, be a good developer! And starts from now!

Developing life,
Robert

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20 Comments

  1. Hi, Robert,
    That’s a great metaphor for what I’ve been doing most of my life…except for the part about peer review. I tried several times in the past to set up some “accountability” groups where we commit to learning/doing something and check in with one another. They never worked because I was the only one who followed through. So I set up my own system by writing in my journal.

    As I’ve said before, my basic philosophy is “Stay curious and open to life. No matter what happens keep learning and growing. Find what you love to do and find a way to share it with others.”

    For Cheerful Monk my metaphor was This Mystery Called Life, which goes along with your point about being flexible and not judging other people too readily. Tomorrow’s post at Transforming Stress will be Life As a Shared Adventure. It’s about continual learning and contributing to others.

    So, it sounds as if we’re on the same wavelength. My question for you is, “What are you doing to improve your English grammar?” Are you taking classes? Are you reading books on grammar and trying to apply the knowledge to your posts? Your blog is a great way to get feedback on that.

    Jean Browman–Cheerful Monks last blog post..This Mystery Called Life

  2. You definitely have to be open and authentic to live the best life possible. I like that you highlight asking yourself, “What is my aim?” I think this is where many people get off track. They simply let life take them where it will instead of choosing a destination and working toward it. Nice job!

  3. Hi Robert,

    I think this is a great post – touching on many important issues.

    And thanks for the mention too.

  4. Robert, what an intriguing (and admittedly terrifying) point of view! I’ll definitely have to give this a lot more thought, though – very good entry!

    Thanks for jumping in once again with such a thought-provoking entry!

    Robert Hruzeks last blog post..Motorcycle Mechanic on Wheels

  5. What a great metaphor for life! Not many people are willing to give this type of living a try. The idea of being accountable to others is terrifying to many, but I have found that to be one of the best parts of my journey. When I have laid myself bare to others that I trust and ask them to tell me what I can make better about me, they responses, although sometimes difficult to hear, have always been given with love and deep respect. I know that having that as a part of my life has helped me grow tremendously.

    What a great, great article!!!!

    Melissas last blog post..Shortcuts to Success…

  6. Now, here’s a fresh idea. I have always thought that secrets have potential to corrupt us. The foremost of which is about how much money we earn — some forward-thinking companies are starting to adapt open-book policy on how much their employees earn. It holds the company accountable for being fair with their compensation scales.

    It does take a lot of courage and rock solid integrity. We should develop a test for this and have politicians take them before they put their names in to run for an office.

    I myself plan to disclose as much of myself as possible in all of my blogs. It’s scary, but I think secret-free living is a relief!

    ari

    Ari Koinumas last blog post..Hidden Truth about “Begin with End in Mind”

  7. Robert A.

    @Jean, thanks for the question again. I read books on writing instead of grammar, one example is the Elements of Style which touches a lot of grammatical points. It helped me several time but it’s not always easy to remember them. I need to read it regularly, I believe.
    Few other things is trying to use a new word that I learn, such as “sinister” in this post.
    And last but not least, I also read books. Observing the grammars while reading will also help.

    @Jeff, Robert
    Thanks for sharing your comments

    @Evan, thanks for the very first review I have as well.

    @Melissa, Welcome to my blog. Thanks for your very first comments. It was a great insights on how accountability has made you much better person.

    @Ari, Thanks for your very first comments as well.
    I love your idea of secret-free living. That’s relieving and we can be as authentic as possible.
    On your comments about salary, I have different opinion. Salary might be better to be kept to individuals to avoid unnecessary comparison between one another. At one point it might be good to boost working spirit and motivation. At another point, I’m afraid that salary comparison will become a way for individuals to withdraw, neglecting their responsibilities and leaving it to those with higher salary.

    That’s my 2-cents,
    Robert

  8. Robert, this is a great post, forcing one to look at life from a completely different perceptive. Practically, it is rather difficult to approach life allowing anyone to enter it and alter it. What one can do is to be receptive to change in oneself. This is half the battle, and the other half is to change. How one can achieve it is a four step process. 1. Listen more and talk less. 2. Introspect by meditation/reflection and 3. Change. and 4. Monitor progress and take appropriate action on an ongoing basis. This is the path to peace and harmony. This is the path to wisdom.

    rummusers last blog post..Success.

  9. Robert,

    Terrific post!

    This is what I’m trying to do with my debt free or bust blog. The subject seems to make other people think they should not only peer review, but act like my mother and tell me what I should do as well, or outright tell me off. I’ve had to delete more than a few comments because of the extreme nature of the content. I’ve gotten more than a few absolutely flaming emails, too.

    When you’re open, you open yourself up to a lot of possible negative things as well as positive. But I’m not giving up on being open on that blog or anywhere else. I may have to delete comments and wade through negative emails for quite awhile because I’m not making the progress a few vocal others think I should be making. But, it’s my life, and I’m doing what I think is best for me and I’ve decided not to care that my choices are not popular or even accepted by others. It still hurts to get lots of negative feedback, but I believe if I follow my own path, it will lead to success, and not someone else’s definition of success, my own.

    Have you experienced any area in your life where this kind of thing happens?

    Sherri

    Debt Free or Bust – Sherris last blog post..Sponsorship Opportunity on Debt Free or Bust!

  10. Robert,
    “I read books on writing instead of grammar, one example is the Elements of Style which touches a lot of grammatical points. It helped me several time but it’s not always easy to remember them. I need to read it regularly, I believe.”

    Ah, but reading isn’t enough. You have to integrate the rules into your life by practice, practice, practice. How about picking one grammatical point a month and announcing to your readers that you want to practice it. Then we can help you by watching for it as we read and give you feedback. Why not start with the use of singular vs plural? “Several time” should be “several times”. You have a perfect accountability group right here. Why not use it?

    I think focusing on one rule a month would be the easiest way to learn. Then you can be checking for it as you write and turn it into a habit. You won’t have to remember it, it will be a natural part of you. What do you think?

    Jean Browman–Cheerful Monks last blog post..This Mystery Called Life

  11. Another great article Robert. And I do like your new look. Especially the grungy look background. Funny, I’ve just revamped my site’s look too. It must be in the air.

    Karen (karooch from Scraps of mind)s last blog post..Scraps of Mind – The Magazine

  12. I’ve been thinking of Melissa’s comment about being accountable to other people. I try to be authentic with other people and be sensitive to their reactions, but my path was too different from the people around me to let them make my decisions. Instead I created my own inner guide. I imagine most other self-actualizing people would say something similar.

    Jean Browman–Cheerful Monks last blog post..The Joy of Being a Blockhead

  13. bikehikebabe

    To be accountable for other person means that you’d be accountable for the benefit of that person.

    To be accountable to other person means that you’d be accountable for the benefit of yourself. If you report what you want to do, to another person, you’re more likely to do it.

  14. Robert A.

    Hi guys, thanks for all the comments. Sorry for the late reply as I’m pretty occupied lately.

    @Mwangi, Karen
    Thanks for dropping by. Glad that you like the themes.

    @Rummy, thanks for sharing your thought. “What one can do is to be receptive to change in oneself. This is half the battle, and the other half is to change.” It reminds me that letting go the old habits is only half the battle, the other half is really applying the new one.

    @Sherri, thanks for sharing your experience. I haven’t gone as much as you. What I find it similar is my experience in blogging. This is the place where I’m trying to be as authentic as possible. And I publish this blog to all my friends and even colleagues. I have ever thought of the negative consequences of revealing my flaws that much here. But I’m really thankful of supportive online friends, who overlook my flaw, sharing their additional thoughts and even question me to make some changes.

    Those are what I’m really thankful of during my blogging experience and revealing myself that much here. Sherri, I like what you said about how you follow your path, not by anyone’s definition of success but your own. It’s a great attitude. I believe many people will learn from your journey as well.
    Just wanna say thank you so much for sharing so much about you here, all the best for your journey!

    @Jean, thanks for waking me up again. Really appreciate your comments and questions you raised here. It is a great idea. I have few concerns though, and I will share with you via emails.

    @Bikehikebabe, hey, thanks for your 1st comment here. =) And you give me more grammatical insights again. Thanks so much for that!

    Cheers,
    Robert

  15. If my life was a wordpress project it would not be open source (it is my most precious commodity). My thoughts however, will be open source since I already have a blog but the only way I would and do operate it is with every single thing you have listed above. I would absolutely check every one of them integrity, authenticity, flexibility, accountability, and as we all know life is a learning process. If I blog it then you can redistribute it.

    Thanks for the post it is always good to know one is on the right track.

    -Tabs

    Tabss last blog post..6 Keys to Personal Freedom

  16. Robert A.

    Hi Tabs,
    Thanks for the encouraging comment. I like your perspective about your life. And by the way, thanks a lot in making your thought as an open source! We’ll be able to learn a lot from you!

    Robert

  17. I don’t know how I would feel about having an open sourced life, most people who view your source may not know your background.

    Danny Coopers last blog post..Top 10 Link Building Blogs of 2008!

  18. Open source lifestyle… that’s extremely interesting. I’m going to give that a lot of thought. I’ve fiddled around with this idea (and many of your tips I’ve already considered), but to put it in that analogy, that of an open source style, sheds a completely new light on it.

    Thanks.

    Marshall – bondChristians last blog post..Why bondChristians Are Interesting

  19. great post !! I read a few of your other entires.where can i subscribe to your blog?Thank you for sharing.sears parts

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