I read a recent blog entry by a developer who, after tying himself into knots trying to do OO "right", finally got to the point of saying "Right is as Right does". His point was, I believe, that quest for perfection is the enemy of the good. And that's a great realization to come to. And like many deep truths, it embodies both a statement and its contradiction.
There may well be no "right" way, there are many wrong ways. Because there is no single answer does not mean that all answers are equal. Flame wars (and real ones) often start because one party takes a certain aspect of truth and magnifies it to the exclusion of all else. Narrowness appeals because it reduces the complex and often confusing to a binary good/bad judgment. But that simplicity comes at the cost of a deep understanding and that deep understanding is, I submit, what makes for profound fulfillment, both technically and philosophically.
Whatever our level of knowledge of a thing, that knowledge is imperfect. This realization should lead us to openness to other ideas and humility about our own. There is a type of "expert" who purports to have all the answers. The expert looks down on all those who have not seen the light and has scant patience for other ideas. Such experts often look for followers who gain their identity by association with the expert. It is a symbiotic relationship: you agree that I'm the expert and I'll endorse your right-mindedness for recognizing such.
It's cozy, all right, but the ongoing search for knowledge has been sacrificed. The "guru" mentality too often freezes the guru in their present state of knowledge. I believe the opposite of this is what Buddhists refer to as "Beginner's Mind". It is the state of openness that allows learning to occur.
One of the best programmers I have ever known constantly exhibited this. When I first began programming (and knew very, very little), Brian was one of the few people who was interested in my thoughts. Most of my ideas were, doubtless, worthless as I didn't have enough background to be able to sort out the trivial and the untrue. But Brian did. He listened to me (as he did to everyone) with the idea that I might have something to teach him -- and this he was very interested in.
Many years later, I still marvel at his capacity for retaining a beginner's mind. At our company filled with very smart people, Brian was acknowledged as the best -- and yet his primary concern was not his reputation. Brian was on a quest for deep knowledge.
It's customary to create resolutions for the new year. Mine is to avoid the trap of being/following the guru and, like Brian, live in that state of continual openness and humility in which deep learning can occur.