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Humility as Software Developers

fitzycodesthings profile image John "Fitzy" DeLancey ・2 min read

I've been thinking about this a lot since a live stream that did NOT go according to plan yesterday.

I wonder: is humility as big an issue for other software developers as it is for me?

Had my butt handed to me trying to implement a new concept that I'm only vaguely familiar with while coding live yesterday, and it shook me to not only have to admit to myself but also face my (limited) audience with my deficiency.

With the patient help of a great coder (and fellow live streamer) in the chat, I managed to get through it, but I was honestly prouder of overcoming my compulsion to run away from "the big scary thing," admit my weakness, and learn something.

So: do other devs out there have the same issue?

What happens when you get "called out" (directly or otherwise, even if you're just calling yourself out) on something you aren't proficient in?

I think there are probably a number of factors to consider in my case at least.

We're told we're "so smart," usually from a very young age

Whether it's our proficiency with technology, our ability to solve logical puzzles, or some other innate quality that leads us to this crazy profession, I feel like devs are often recognized for being "smart cookies." Whether that's TRUE, of course, is a different discussion.

But in my case, then, when I confront something I DON'T know, I tend to recoil.

We're problem solvers

Our job in code is to solve problems. We solve business problems with software solutions, we solve logical problems with elegant code, etc.

When I face a problem I can't solve, then....

Maybe it's cultural

Here I have the least understanding. For all I've been writing code for 15 years professionally and longer otherwise, I've been fairly insular (almost entirely solo dev work), so I don't have a good bead on the industry overall.

Is "perceived weakness" something that's culturally frowned upon across the profession?

Perhaps, coming from the opposite side, I've just gone in the other direction. Self-sufficiency (Stack Overflow doesn't count) is what puts food on my table.

Over to you

How do you deal with humility in your day-to-day?

I can certainly recommend live streaming if you think you can master your fight-or-flight instinct. I was forced to confront this thing live, and while it wasn't pretty, I managed it.

Maybe there's a less painful way though? 🤣

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