Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about functional programming… in relation to life. While there are lots of complicated and intimidating concepts that are included as part of functional programming, on the base level, functional programming is super simple.
It’s about cleanly transforming a set of inputs into outputs, without the side-effects of changing-state and mutable data. In functional programming, the implementation of the function almost doesn’t matter. The important thing is that it takes in a set of inputs, it transforms them through the implementation, and gives back certain outputs.
But if you really think about the process of transformation, the break down of the original ingredients to create something new, there will be some type of leftover in the transformation process. When you burn wood, you transform it into a fire/warmth, but you also have leftover ash. Your function will take wood as the input and output the warmth, but the implementation will have some leftover ash to it.
Your clean mathematical function will have something left in it. Something very subtle and intangible compared to the output. Some type of energy, an essense perhaps. As the law of physics goes, energy cannot be created or destroyed.
Why is it that there could be two apps on the market that do exactly the same thing (the same output), but one app will have millions of users while the other will have none. I think the answer is in that leftover implementation detail. The successful app was made with love and passion, while the unsuccessful app was made simply to make money. The byproduct of the successful app is love while the byproduct of the unsuccessful app is greed.
The consumer can feel this and is attracted by that subtle love byproduct.
Another real-world example is my grandmother’s banana bread. She makes the best banana bread! Let’s say I ask my grandma for the banana bread recipe and she gives it to me. I will go into my kitchen, follow the recipe exactly, but no matter how much I try, my banana bread will never be the same as my grandmothers. Why? Because my grandmother takes the ingredients and implements their transformation in a way that creates deep love as the byproduct. So while the inputs and outputs of my grandmothers and my banana bread are exactly the same, my implementation creates a different byproduct than my grandmothers.
The implementation really does matter. In fact, I would argue that its subtle byproduct is almost more important than the pure output. It gives essence, a soul, to the output. That essence could be good or bad energy.
With this in mind and the end of the year coming up fast, I’d like to challenge you to think a little differently about New Year’s resolutions. Instead of coming up with new things you’re going to do, consider analyzing the implementation byproducts of the things you’re already doing every day and transforming those if needed.
You might already go to the gym. But are you going to the gym because you hate how your body looks or are you going to the gym because you respect your body as a container for your soul and it’s important for you to keep that container healthy? To the outside world, the output will be the same – you already go to the gym and you will continue going to the gym, but when you change the implementation byproduct from hate for your body (not being pretty or good enough) to love for your body (it’s a vessel for your supreme being), you and everyone around you will feel the difference on that subtle level.
How are you implementing your Github comments at work? Are you communicating with judgment and annoyance (especially at that new intern) or are you commenting with the byproduct of compassion and spirit of teaching?
If you already have a blog, does your implementation stem from a desire for fame and recognition or out of love of sharing what you’re learning?
The byproduct of nature is always love. It keeps creating and nourishing us no matter how bad we keep treating it. We trample the earth with our feet every day, but it still gives us fruit. I wish you all the byproduct of love and compassion in everything you do in the coming year.