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Maxim Chechenev
Maxim Chechenev

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Confession of an average developer

I've always been an average developer. Not bad, but nothing extraordinary. I worked in some reputable companies, not IT leaders. And I was sure that I could not become someone great because the "average" is my limit — anyone else, but not me. And I still would have this mindset unless one thing happened to me.

How did it start

I was not obsessed with computers when I was a kid, unlike many other current developers. I didn't learn how to code at 12 years old. I preferred just playing video games. I knew how to install games and use the Internet, which was enough to be the smartest in my school class.

I didn't dream of becoming a developer and writing the code. I wanted to do something different and more creative—for example, journalism or film directing. But I decided to use my knowledge of computers and become a web developer.

I got a decent education (not from the list of top universities in my country).

I had enough knowledge to get a job in an average company. You know these companies are not bad, they usually have a fancy coffee machine, acceptable development practices, and friendly people, but these companies are not the top tech companies. Not like Google, Uber, Facebook, and so on.

That was fine, and enough for me. I knew that I was not smart to join cool tech companies. I know that I can never solve their interview tasks. I tried to improve it, but that was so boring, and my brain told me: "Just drop it, buddy, we are good without this knowledge." What is the point of studying these things when dozens of average companies want to hire me?

I changed a few companies, but I moved from one average company to another. I tried to interview some big companies, and I failed so badly. My mind made good excuses for me. That is not me who was not prepared enough, but companies who asked stupid, pointless questions. And that they don't see how awesome I am.

It's progressing

After a few years, I got a robust solid mindset of "average developer." I was sure that I would never be suitable for cool companies. Moreover, I didn't even want to think about working in such companies. I got thousands of different excuses, but the real one was that I was just scared to reveal that my knowledge was not good. And my fear of getting out of my comfort zone.

Whenever I met someone and if they told me: "Hi, I'm working at Uber/Amazon/Facebook/you name it" my first thought was: "Phh, what a nerd!".
Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against those companies. I was jealous that someone could do it (mostly, people younger than me) but not me. So I masked it with a passive-aggressive form. I wanted everyone to stay with me in our cozy swamp for average people. Why would you ever want to leave it? Nonsense!

Sometimes a brave and naive thought has come to my mind to challenge it by telling: "Hey, you, remember about your ambitions and motivation! You are not the average; you are just lazy!". I was happy to have this thought, but that was not enough. The army of average ideas quickly beat that naive one.

That was a comfortable, predictable life. I didn't care about my ambitions. Calm and relax. I was sure that something bright and nice could happen without any effort from my side. Well, maybe not today and not tomorrow. But one day it should happen. Until then, I will rest in my swamp.

The thing

And it happened! Not where I expected it. I got a real game-changer in my head. More robust than any average thought in my mind. You know, like a transformer of all these negative thoughts. The supper average thought - a benign tumour in my cerebellum.

I didn't wake up a new person after the surgery, no. I believe it happens only in movies. But I woke up with the idea: "Hey, Maxim, we finally kicked that toxic guy out! Let's try to build a better process in our brains!". What a lovely idea! I just received a new free space in my brain - let's use it.

I love to think that all ideas that spoiled my mind about being the average person, about my limits were grouped in that one tumour. And it was cut from my brains, once and forever. There is a nice empty place there now, a battlefield, a reminder to all other thoughts and ideas about our time.

The beginning

I didn't know where and how to start. How to bring my ambitions alive? Isn't it too late for that? And most of all - what should I do with my "average developer" label? It's not that easy to change my behaviour just in one day.

I had struggles and doubts, but at the same time, I was feeling that I'm not feeling like the average person anymore. Yes, I don't know a lot to be a great person, but finally, I realized that I could achieve almost anything. I should remember my dreams, find them in the backyard of my mind.

At the same time, this experience helped me become honest and stop worrying about things that I cannot control. Is it a change that I can be a new Steve Jobs? No, not. Do I like to pretend and work in an average company? No, I can not handle a fake environment. I want to be a real me, and the tumour was a good slap in the face to start doing it.

The first thing that I started to work on was to fulfill my dream to relocate to another country. As you remember, before my mind was great at making good excuses for anything. So I had the following reason: "I'm not smart, my English is awful, no one abroad will ever hire. Just don't try". I started to learn it more, practice more. I applied to different companies abroad - I failed most of the interview processes. But I got something that I was missing - the experience. In 4 months of working on interviewing - I did it.


I need to remark - I'm not trying to overstate my situation. A lot of people go through more complicated things. It was my trigger to step back and rethink my ideas and my beliefs. In a way, I'm thankful for that.

I'm in my 30 years old, and it's been almost five years since the surgery. I'm still an average developer. I haven't achieved all my childhood dreams about becoming a journalist or a film director yet. But I don't have any mind blockers anymore. I didn't join Uber or Google, but I work in a good company on an excellent product with a fantastic team. I also started to work as a mentor to share my experience and knowledge to people who want to change their professions and become a web-developer. I feel that sharing my experience makes this world just a little bit better despite how naive it sounds.

I regret a bit about the time and all my fake stupid limits. At the same time, I can not say that I lost those years for nothing. I still learned new things, met good people, did a lot of funny and lovely things. But I was blocking my real ambitions and desires.

Don't be like me.

No one should forget about their real desires. We are - what we are—different humans with different expectations and dreams. There are no labels like "average" or "good enough for champions league."

I don't want anyone to experience a tumour to realize it. What I want to say - we are all capable of great things. We are not just average developers and average humans. We all have a limited amount of time - we don't have time for artificial mind limits. Everyone can achieve what he/she wants to. Try new things, learn new languages, understand how binary trees work, get dream jobs, and impact. But not wasting time by covering it by fake limits like I did. We are not average. We are all amazing.


Thank you for reading!

Top comments (29)

phantas0s profile image
Matthieu Cneude

That was an original read. You could improve your style of course, and you'll do if you write more. Nevertheless, the ideas you give are very interesting. Thanks for that.

I believe that most of our world is in our head. It doesn't mean it's easy to control, but we can control it with enough time and effort.

First thing first: good, average or bad doesn't mean anything. It means something if you compare yourself with somebody else. If you do that, you will always be better than somebody, and worst than somebody else. We have have tendency to focus on the negative, so we're often the worst compared to this hypothetical other(s_.

That's why we should work on ourselves, every day, to do comparison with our past self, and only with our past self. Nobody else.

Second: I do meditation every day for years and I'm generally obsessed with the idea of learning who I am. I believe it's the only way to unlock our potential. My conclusion for now: nobody is good from one day to another. It takes time and practice, and you will only go there if you love what you do.

How to find what you love? By trying. Experimenting different things. Don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Try to help as much as you can. Practice enough and have fun; then, you'll be ready to continue to do that for enough time to feel good at it, and feel good about yourself.

imiebogodson profile image
Imiebo Godson

Hello Maxim, I could relate to your earlier circumstances and state of mind. For a while now, I have been looking for excuses to quit trying to be a developer and find something else to do. I know I can be a really good developer, I tend to pick up things fast and I have been progressing quite well. But when I look at how much is still left to learn, and how good people are, it just gets to me.
Reading your post has given me the push I have searched for to keep going. Thank you

chechenev profile image
Maxim Chechenev

Thank you! I'm glad that you found my post helpful for you!

pramod0 profile image

An average developer here.
Like you, I was also not fascinated by coding. In fact, I got a late start. I started Java development around 25 years of age.

I like cooking and dreamt about film direction. But coding gives superior money than anything else. Also, this is a job where my intellect can be challenged. So I chose this job.

Besides this, I am lazy as hell. I know if I work harder I can become a super developer. But working for it seems so boring.
Thankfully I have got a great mentor who keeps guiding me and that is why I am still in a good job.
Your story motivated me. I found out that I am not alone.

ivoberger profile image

Regarding the "lazy as hell" part: in my experience lazyness is just a symptom of what you're working on. So I'd suggest to try and find fun and optimally meaningful project to practice on.
And keep in mind that practice compounds. Results will come but it will take a while and someday you'll feel like you just made a giant leap.

dj221ai profile image

Hello Maxim,
It is delightful to read this article and thanks for sharing it. I am also a very average developer everyday just trying to improve myself and this article inspired me more to take more initiatives and keep learning and also that we can start improving ourselves at any point of time.
But only one question, how suddenly thought came in your mind? is there any incidence occurred or it was there from the beginning in your subconscious mind? which came to you subconsciously, but whatever may be the reason that helped you to improve and that's the thing.
well good luck for your career ahead!!

chechenev profile image
Maxim Chechenev

It's hard to say and define when and how it came to my mind. Maybe, it was just the environment I grew up in. I had no one who could tell me that during my career (well, especially in the beginning of it). Or who could share some stories about this topic. So it took some time to experience things and realize it myself.
So I though that maybe my story could help someone, because I wish I had somebody who could tell it to me.

dj221ai profile image
Dhirendra • Edited

Same here trying and learning, but that's good post of yours. So keep writing and keep inspiring.

dinmon profile image
Dinys Monvoisin

Hi Maxim,

Thanks for sharing your experience. The first part was unfortunate to read, but eventually, I got the end. I am happy that everything is going well at your end.

A couple of things I will suggest for your article. It is great putting all the details, but I feel you cramp everything into it. It is hard to read.

Try to reduce and break the article into sections that will allow readers to skim what you wrote.

Can't wait to see the next update.

chechenev profile image
Maxim Chechenev

Yeah, good point. I was trying to avoid unnecessary details but looks like I didn't succeed in it haha

I've just tried to remove a few sentences, thanks for advice!

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Playing video games counts for something. Thats how I started too its what made me want to pick up programming. I was a geek playing around with games and computers from a young age. I did not start doing any real programming until I was in college.

denisveleaev profile image
Denis Veleaev

That's a strong article. Thanks a lot for that, Maxim. I feel the same inner battlefield. Would be very glad to hear more about your way of finding a job abroad. Your experience can be very helpful for people (and for me in particular).

Thanks again for the article!

chechenev profile image
Maxim Chechenev

Hi Denis, thanks!
Yeah, I think it could be an interesting topic to write a post about. Just curious - is it something specific that you are interested about finding a job abroad?

denisveleaev profile image
Denis Veleaev • Edited

Big thanks for the interest! Looking forward to seeing the article!

I'm also a natively Russian speaker Frontend Developer from a small poor non-EU country with a lot of "average" companies. By "average" I mean that they're actually good, but... you know... the opportunities here are incomparable with, let's say, Netherlands.

So, basically, I'm interested in everything :) Because I do relate to your experience.

  • All these "average" companies have similar expectations from the candidate, which are not that high (deep understanding of the fundamentals + hands-on experience with your tech stack + agile practices + leadership and communication). What's the difference between these expectations and the expectations in a top-level company (I don't mean just Google-like companies)?
  • What helped you to stand out among a lot of local professionals? I assume you had to be much better than them because they had to help you with visa and relocation. You're also not a native English speaker and probably don't know Dutch.
  • By the way, the fact that you don't know Dutch was a problem for you or for your employer?
  • How many years of experience is enough to try to find a job abroad?
  • What type of visa do you need to work abroad and what are the limitations?
  • How did your company help you with relocation?
  • What was the process of looking for a job abroad? What tools did you use? How much time did it take? If it's not a secret, how many failed attempts did you made?
  • If you're willing to share it... Where do you feel more secure? I mean... In your homeland, you're probably a much more desirable candidate than in top-level companies abroad.
  • How much time did you prepare for the interview and how? How did the interview process look like?
  • Is it easier to get into a big company or in a small startup?
  • What difficulties did you met during the relocation process and after?
  • Are the relocated employees treated in the same way as the local ones?
  • Everything else that you think is important to know

Thanks a lot, Maxim, that you're willing to share this information. It would be incredibly useful, and, I hope, will help me and others to bust the mental myths about relocation and thinking big.

If you're willing to talk more about it, please DM me @DenisVeleaev

Thanks again!

pacocampo profile image
Paco Ocampo • Edited

Your post has been my game-changer, I spent a lot of time behind my excuses and fears. I'm an average developer trying to hide that I'm not as good as my chief and co-workers believe. No more. I'm writing from Mexico City at 00:42 trying to work but now I'll try to be what I dreamed to be many years ago. Thank you Maxim you saved my career

chechenev profile image
Maxim Chechenev

Nice to hear it! Just curious - can I ask what is your dream that you are going to achieve?

anzhari profile image
Anzhari Purnomo

Great article!

To me, there is nothing wrong with being an “average developer” as long as you are happy and doing your best. Software development is just a job. You can hate your job or you can love it, it does not matter as long as you are good enough.

But on the other hand, if we add competition into the equation, I always believe that people who love their job will always have better results.

moniquealtero profile image
Monique Altero

Thank you so much for this! I feel inspired because I had the same behavior to change and reprogram my mind.

chechenev profile image
Maxim Chechenev

Thank you! It's very nice if my post has inspired you, that means a lot to me :)

isaactorresmichel profile image
Isaac Torres Michel

Hi Maxim, I really did find myself in your experience. Thanks for sharing it, I think that maybe you're a better dev that the one you think you're. You're a dev that inspires others to improve.

Keep the good work.

chechenev profile image
Maxim Chechenev

Thanks, it's really nice if my words can inspire or help anyone - that's way more important to me than just writing the great code :)

ya39oubi profile image
Hamza Yaakoubi

Hey maxim,
Great article
So inspiring

tiagosoares94 profile image
Tiago Soares

Without the average developer, the Wheel doesn't work. 😁

thodwris profile image
Theodoros Kokosioulis

I couldn't relate more! Thanks for sharing this!

perpetual_education profile image
perpetual . education

Average developers make the world go round!

We'll settle for Good!. It's a great place to be.

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