Be all you can be
If I don’t say it every day I must say it to developers every week. “Be selfish”. While the world seems bathed in endless capital to get the next big thing to market the one thing we are well short of is skilled and impassioned developers.
Having had a wonderfully happy and successful .Net career I have no bug to bear. My belly is round and voluminous with all the riches it has provided me but the grip of its allure on our community saddens me.
If we play this back as technologists who’s near every thought revolves around pragmatic problem solving we would never allow our customers to make bizarre loyalty based decisions if we could help it. We take endless pride in building things fit for purpose and of outstanding quality but somehow right now the .Net community in so many ways just seems so resistant to change and this is where I want to call out “be selfish”.
As a developer you owe it to yourself and your employer to be selfish every day and make sure some part of your day is about your evolution, honing of skills and mindset. Because as much as your product manager may want you to deliver that next story they also want you to be making sure that your craft is constantly evolving in a manner that will support their grandiose aspirations in the future.
How? Start working on your story telling. Work on your leadership alliances. Once you can tell meaningful and compelling stories about the value of skills and development and you have some leadership alliances in place it comes down to how often you feel the need to play that card. Creating a culture of ardent if not maniacal approach to personal as a developer starts with you and your organisation will always be richer for your legacy. Be selfish!
If I can use functional programmings reemergence into the mainstream as a useful method for “correctly” creating applications of significant scale quickly and manageably. The evidence is somewhat compelling and for a “selfish” developer something they would have considered and tinkered with at a minimum. The unselfish developer I have little doubt will happily argue “but I can build that in Rails. or ASP .Net”. Because to them they have never had the time to remove the blinkers and look up from their happy place. They are normally driven to be amazing for their employer and appear productive and deliver fast, relative to what they know today. Selfish developers are normally insanely curious. Happy to put a little white lie into their planning meetings about the size of a story so they can spend just that little more time getting creative on a task. Taking a moment to look up from what they know and challenge the status quo. Don’t fear being selfish, your brain is for hire and every minute you fill it with something useful your employer gains and gains big. So while you may not yet be JK Rowling and are battling to sell your need to be selfish for the greater gain find ways to be selfish in your every day.
I implore you to remember how you ended up here. You love solving problems, your brain aches for the challenge. For goodness sake don’t waste it on ways you know now, spend it on finding better, simpler and faster from anywhere the options are infinite. Please believe me when I tell you that the next great solution is not always going to be on your favourite vendors homepage.
New and shiny is the new norm. There are many great articles about not picking new and shiny and being still in your choices. That may work for those who are content with their agility but be sure you are comparing to your competitors not your own legacy. Be selfish, you only get one crack at this life so make it beautiful, feed that curiosity and make sure to inspire those around you.
PS: I have two hours of commute a day so listen to a lot of podcasts here are some of my favourite selfish and inspiring audio purveyors.