Originally published on Medium
You don't know what you don't know—Jim Kwik, expert and super-brain coach
“So,” you’ve probably asked yourself, “Why I can ‘t unleash my full potential and become a more productive, effective problem solver, an expert, or even a 10x developer?” We don’t know our full potential because there are different factors and fuzzy stuff that hold us back. However, the most important part is that we all want to fulfill our dreams and goals. We all want to achieve our potential.
Therefore, in this post, I will share the main problems I have struggled with and encountered. You’ve probably gone through them as well. They are inner and outer struggles, the reasons we aren’t able to unlock our full potential as a developer.
Imposter syndrome is a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite the progress you have gained and the evident success.
Let’s break down this collection of feelings. Firstly, let me remind you of something you’ve probably experienced and felt more than once along your coding voyage. This especially happens when you start something new. When you started a new project, in the first meetings, did you feel completely lost? Your mind was struggling with what other developers, clients, and managers were talking about. Your brain played against you and made you feel useless yourself.
So, after going through that tough moment, you most likely thought you were a fraud. This brings you a mix of feelings that, far from reflecting your personal talents, confuse you. Your head spins with silly comments such as feeling you are not qualified for that project, the recent job, or the promotion you got.
Have you ever been worried and thinking that everyone will find out your flaws because you constantly check Stackoverflow even for the simplest things you forgot? Come on! The most experienced developers forget things as well.
Another aspect where this syndrome blocks you is that you admire people who have achieved what you aspire to, but at the same time, you think you are not good enough to achieve it and belong to that elite. You’re making a lot of assumptions here.
Don’t worry! All of us suffer this feeling. So bear in mind that you are not the only one; even highly successful people experience this. Behavior is not related to self-esteem or lack of confidence.
To close this point, this behavior sometimes is caused by our personal behaviors. Experiencing tough pressures may lead you to become a perfectionist. Somehow, please, avoid it!
This has happened to me several times and most likely to you as well. I have started several personal, shiny, and exciting projects, but guess what happened in the end? I abandoned them halfway, and I just stacked them up in the pile of half-finished projects. So, what is the impact of that on my pursuit to unlock my full potential?. The answer is simple but devastating. You got frustrated, you lost the willpower, and, worse, you broke your consistency. Recovering from that isn’t easy; you will need time and a strong mindset.
Why do we fall down on that vicious cycle throughout life? This happens because our enthusiasm clouds our focus, and we don’t realize that the project could take more time and resources than you thought and planned, and therefore more effort and energy. Therefore, you end up putting it aside.
Software development is a field in constant change. It demands that you be an active learner all the time, so much so that experience is not enough anymore. You need the capacity to embrace the endless learning process.
Most of us are too worried about the results we are trying to accomplish in the process. And, of course, it’s a valid point if we analyze some special situations. I know there are cases when we’re looking for a way to survive and just bring things on the table.
I remember when I started the coding journey some years ago, I thought after building some easy pet projects I would be able to say I was prepared to be hired or get a good job. I was thinking about the result instead of everything in and around the process itself. Being an active learner, willpower, motivation, and enthusiasm are what really matter.
What do I mean by a focus on the process itself? If you focus on how you develop the habit, self-discipline, and consistency behind the process, I daresay you will forget to worry about the outcomes since it is not your worry at that time. You will think about how to practice more, more, and more and forget that by completing the results, it will come up by its own nature.
We are constantly tempted to check our mobile devices or click on a news feed, notification, or message. We can’t get the important things done because we are distracted by those and more.
In our modern world, all things are designed to distract us. Everything! Yes. We get stuck in an endless cycle of distractions at work, at home, on the street. We lose our daily purpose, our progress on our biggest dream by doing unimportant and useless things.
We have a ton of distractions surrounding us. Stick your attention to your progress to achieve your daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly goals. Stay focused on what really matters for you. This is a habit we should cultivate every day. It represents 80% of your success.
Care about people’s approval, and you will be their prisoner!—Lao Tzu
You are doing your job to impress and get approval. In our field, we need approval, obviously, but your first aim is to do your best. That’s it!
This is a mistake we used to do or even currently do. Newbies and even seasoned developers. All the time, we try to make things in a way that will get others’ approval. For instance, you are trying to solve a problem using a complex algorithm to impress without taking into account that you won’t be able to solve it or understand all of that algorithm’s boundaries.
There is a big difference between being respected for your expertise and being liked. Seek respect instead of approval. This requires acceptance of your results, whether good, huge, or great.
Sometimes we pretend to be smart with our code. Fuck. There’s no reason to do it. The advantage of code is that a problem could be solved with several approaches. For example, you could use the brute force approach to solve the problem and, along the way, figure out how to improve your algorithm.
The problem with pretending to be smart is that, when you don’t find a solution, you’ll give up. That’s when consistency wins the game. The power of consistency is underrated most of the time. Being consistent, you will train your brainpower, improving your problem-solving skills and increasing your productivity.
This is related to the previous point. Probably, you are making small progress on what you’re working on. Under the hood, you are building a system of habits and developing your brainpower and mental stamina. You are facing new small challenging problems and storing them in your brain forever. You are creating neural connections, making your knowledge persistent.
So don’t underrate your small achievements. Greatness is built with the smallest feats.
This is a common mistake I have done and still do. As Einstein states:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.
Reading and watching make us better. The problem in our field is we become better when we practice more and more. We are what we repeatedly do, not what we read, think, or watch. As another person once said: “knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing.”
It’s not about how many programming books you read, much less how many video courses you watch. The metric for you is how many hours you spend putting those concepts into actions. You need to store all that you read, watch, and think in your long-term memory.
Thanks for reading! If this story turned out to be interesting, I’d really appreciate it if you like and share it with your friends. I hope to add a little bit more knowledge to you.
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