On Self Promotion

(without being an asshole)

Call me old fashioned, call me outdated, call me stupid, but I was, am and forever will be a true believer that hard work is ultimately the best self promoting tool that you can have in your arsenal. There is no amount of social media posts or brags or overstating 10000×100000^100000 that you wrote 3 lines of code and you are on your way to become a developer, a real developer.

I do not mean to offend anyone. But it’s very symptomatic and evident that people forgot the complexity of the work we do and the problems we try to solve. I can see numerous example of people that make it clearly evident that they spend drastically more amount of time thinking about and setting up their home offices during these hard times. Then they have to make sure that they made everyone and their mamma know about the cool setup they managed to create. What happened to the actual work you were supposed to do? What happened to the times when a simple configuration laptop was enough to just sit in a corner somewhere and focus what actually matters.

I suppose it all comes down to a different type of epidemic, one that has been around for quite some time before COVID-19. It is the epidemic of the fact that how others perceive you matters to you more than actually doing the work that you say you do and actually enjoy it… for yourself and nobody else….When’s the last time you did that?

Nothing bad in wanting to prove something to the environment around you, but at least make sure you spent normal amounts of time doing it. A good pointer or a hint could be: if you spend more time proving people that you’re the real deal uber-nerd than actually doing the work….then in my humble opinion you’re doing it wrong. There’s already more than enough to learn and do, so please focus on that. I guarantee you that nobody likes or loves you because you managed to prove you self worth trough constantly repeating that you’re a developer or whatever you want them to believe.

There’s thousands of people that work for their respective companies and are contributing in their environments for 10+ years. They posses so much knowledge and are so valuable to their environments that they’re practically irreplaceable, or a huge blow if the team or company loses them. Yet, you rarely hear of those people. They don’t brag, they focus on hard work and result based perspective and they bring positive energy to every discussion or work they are involved with…..and yeah…you will notice that they mostly start their discussions with: “It depends…”

I suppose that’s why you have a categorization that groups based on performance. I won’t go into the definitions of what high-performers are, because it’s a pespective based and very broad subject that I might touch upon some other time, but you get my hint.

I don’t consider myself an expert on this subject. I’m not qualified enough to say what is right and what is not. All I can do here is to offer an observation and advice based on experience.

So, here it goes, one group I described here reeks of entitlement and seeking acknoledgment and approval by any means necessary. The other brings hard work and open-mindedness (debateful and not always, I agree) and goal-oriented focus. Which one are you and are you able to recognize it.

If I could shate a few tips from my perspective I would focus on the following:

  • Don’t underestimate the established methods like the scientific method or backing your claims with facts such as studies and proven practices as well as heuristics that came from 50+years in our fairly young but also very powerful industry.
  • Don’t rush to prove your point. As one very respected colleague of mine recently pointed out, the hardest thing of all in our line of work is to HEAR each-other. Like in, really understand what the other person is saying and what problems they’re facing. He couldn’t be more true. So, don’t just wait your turn to speak, there’s great treasures that you can utilize and you can learn a lot by just listening.
  • Live to make you and the ones closest to you happy, not the other way around. Don’t live for the perception of other people around you. Do things as if there was nobody around.
  • At the end of every day I ask myself. Did I do at least one thing to make the world better that before that? It makes me really happy if I can answer yes to that.
  • Love brings love back. If you approach the issues that you’re facing with positive energy and have a positive solution and outcome on your mind. People usually sense that and pick up on it fairly quickly, even if at times it doesn’t seem so.
  • You’re not born with credibility and you are not entitled to it. It is earned and it is earned in one and only one way. Hard work and all of the above.

And the last one. Chasing dreams. I have to admit this one was the hardest for me to learn, realize and accept. In the process of finding your calling in life, the one thing I was positive about that I had found since my early age, you have to be ready to accept it when you find it. Most important: your life calling does not have to be that you have to be the best, the no.1, the champion, the uber-guru in whatever you choose to do. You don’t have to win. It is not a competition.

Once a realized this and the fact that there are also other equally important things that you need to focus on in your life, a huge burden fell off my chest. I allowed myself to like myself again. The facts that I didn’t manage to join Google or Amazon were not eating me inside anymore. I realized I can equally contribute wherever environment I choose to be. More important, I can do it on my own terms. Somebody will like that, somebody will definetly not and that speaks more of them than you. It takes a lot of backed up self-confidence and credibility to allow the people you manage be themselves. After all that happened last year, I can, with great self-confidence say that I have finally gotten a chance to work with the people (a manager I have in mind in particular) that encourages this very thing I’m talking about here. To do things by being yourself.

The learning never stops, of course and there is no industry in the world that is easy to work in. Each has it’s own complexities and problems to solve and things to improve.

So, less bragging, more working for me in the upcoming year!

How about you?

Share your thoughts with me and let’s have a discussion. I love hearing people’s opinions and beliefs on the subject.

I created a discord especially for this so join me there and let’s kick it off:

https://discord.gg/w6PvkG8

Until next time. ……Happy coding….

TehBoyan