« All Episodes

DCR: Traits of A Great Developer - Humility

Published 9/13/2017

Today's episode is the first of a series of episodes extending our previous discussions from the Developer Career Roadmap. The first episode from that series can be found here: https://spec.fm/podcasts/developer-tea/49656

Today's episode focuses on the trait of humility.

Today's episode is brought to you by Linode.

Linode provides superfast SSD based Linux servers in the cloud starting at $5 a month. Linode is offering Developer Tea listeners $20 worth of credit if you use the code DEVELOPERTEA2017 at checkout. Head over to spec.fm/linode to learn more about what Linode has to offer to Developer Tea listeners!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
What are the traits of a great developer? That's what we're going to be talking about in today's episode, the traits of a successful developer. And actually, we're going to make this a multi-episode kind of a series of multiple traits that we're going to talk about over the course of a few episodes. And this is actually going to be kind of an extension of something that we did almost a year ago, the developer career roadmap. If you haven't listened to the developer career roadmap episodes, I think it's important for you to go and listen to those, not just because we're extending that to include these traits, but also because the first three episodes of the developer career roadmap are in the top 10 episodes of this show. Now that wouldn't be a big deal if we didn't have a ton of episodes, but what that shows me is so many people who listen to this show, you have the same kinds of questions and it's around your career. So I highly recommend that you go and check out those episodes. You know, we don't really do a lot of back episode promotion on this show, you know, I'll mention every once in a while to go back and listen to a particular episode if it's relevant to today's episode. And that's true for these, but I do think that these are kind of fundamental, conceptually fundamental ideas that you can use to make your career better. And that's exactly what the purpose of this show is. You are listening to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. And once again, we're extending the developer career roadmap beyond the steps. We're talking about traits today. These are not things that you develop, you know, at one point in your career and then forget later. These are traits that you develop over the course of your career, you know, indefinitely. There's things that every good developer and truly every good professional person, right? These are traits that every professional person shares in common. So we're not just talking about things that are going to make a developer's career better, but really these are career values that are going to make everyone's career better, especially as we move forward through this kind of digital revolution that we've all been a part of for 20, 30 years. These are going to be traits that will help you. And truly, these are kind of timeless as well, right? They go beyond before the digital revolution. So that's the scale that we're talking about. We're not talking about specific things related to being a developer in 2017 that won't be applicable in 2027. So let's get into this discussion. The first trait that I think is so important, it's kind of a foundational trait for Developer To possess is humility. And not just a sense of your place in the world or, you know, not the self-deprecating always down on yourself kind of substitution for humility. Those things are kind of lazy versions of humility. It's humility that is found by intentionally saying that, you know, you're not really good, right? Or that you're not good enough. That's not the humility that we're talking about. Instead, the humility that I'm talking about is a rational humility. What is a rational humility? It's what we are going to expound on in today's episode. And it begins by understanding this concept of humility and why humility is so important. Humility is the foundation for learning. And as we've said on the show over and over and over, learning is the core activity of a developer. Whether you're sitting and intentionally going through some kind of academic style, intentional learning, right, where you're going through courses or you're being led by an expert in the field, and you're trying to understand a particular subject through lecture type content, that kind of thing. Or if you're learning through experimentation and everything in between, right, we're always learning as developers who are always learning. And in order to learn, we must have this base of humility. We're going to talk about how rational humility creates that strong foundation for learning right after this quick break for our sponsor. Today's episode is sponsored by Linode. Linode has been sponsoring Developer Tea for the majority of the time that the show has been around. This is a company that truly believes in the development community. And on top of believing in the development community, they've also served developers by providing a great service at a great price. This is such a simple concept in business, but so often we can easily be taken advantage of. Linode is providing you with the best dollar per gigabyte of RAM Linux servers that I know of at least on the market. You can get a one gigabyte of RAM Linux server on Linode for $5 a month. If you're a serious developer and $5 a month, hopefully you see very quickly how that can be worth your money. You know, $5 a month is less than Spotify, it's less than Netflix. It's pretty much less than every other monthly plan that you could buy into. And the value that you receive as a result of this is enormous. So Linode also provides, you know, it's not just these $5 one gigabyte servers for people who are starting up side projects or maybe hobby projects or, you know, hosting their personal sites on them. They also provide very high level services. They provide node balancing so that you can take multiple requests and route them to the best server based on that particular server's load at that point in time. And there's tons of services that Leno provides and all of them are hourly. So they're built on an hourly basis. That means you don't pay for anything that you don't use. And the servers are top quality. They have SSD based servers and they have a 40 gigabit internal network. So everything is super fast between those servers. So go and check it out. Spec.fm slash Linode. And if you use the code Developer Tea2017, you're going to get $20 worth of credit. That's enough for four months, for example, on that one gigabyte RAM server. So go and check it out. Spec.fm slash Linode. Thank you again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So we're talking about how humility is a fundamentally important trait. This is the developer career roadmap traits of a great developer. Humility is the base for your ability to grow. It's the base for your ability to grow because you must be humble in order to learn. So we mentioned this idea of rational humility. Humility that is irrational is forced. It's the idea that in order to be humble, I must always believe that I am wrong or that I'm that the quality of the things that I produce is low or that I don't deserve anything that I receive. All of these are examples of irrational humility because they don't really represent a healthy humility. A rational humility understands your ability to be wrong. This is kind of the core concept behind learning, right? Because in order to learn, you must change. And in order to be okay with changing, you must believe that whatever you become is going to be better than whatever you were before you changed. And these are obviously voluntary changes. Some ways that we change over the course of our lives are more incidental than they are intentional. But if you're going to intentionally learn, if you're going to intentionally become better, refine who you are, refine the way you think, refine your skills, refine your perspectives, all of these are changes. All of these refinements are chiseling away the things that are not what you want to be. And in order for you to understand that you need to chisel, that you need to refine, that you need to change in order to become better, you must have humility. And that humility is based in the understanding that you are not yet what you want to be. And it's interesting that you will never arrive at that final state. It's an interesting thing to ponder the idea that humility can act not as a detractor or not as a discouraging device, but rather as an encouraging device. Humility is recognizing your opportunities for growth. Because in order to understand your opportunities for growth, in order to understand that you need to learn constantly to become better, you must first recognize that you are not where you want to be, that you are not at that refined state that you want to arrive at. Now this is very different from being dissatisfied with yourself, right? That is the irrational humility. It's very different from believing that you are defeated. It's very different from believing that quitting is the best course of action. Humility understands that you have things to learn from everyone around you, from every experience you go through, because you have not yet figured it all out. The people who are at the excellence level of, we'll call it world class. The people who are at the top of their industries, at the top of their practices, world class athletes, people who win over and over and over, people who are changing and innovating in the world at a level that is unprecedented before they came along. Those people recognize the fact that number one, if they don't maintain a sense of humility about who they are and what they do, then they will lose any drive that they have to become better. And number two, they recognize that every person's experience, every person's background, is different. So in order for them to understand their own selves and their place in the world, they don't waste time comparing themselves. Now, that's not to say that they don't look at competition. It's not to say that they don't compare themselves for the sake of sharpening or for the sake of fueling, but rather to break their own records, right? To set the bar only at their own capacity, don't set the bar at the capacity of someone else. And the only way that you can do that is by recognizing that beating someone else and becoming better than everyone else, these are kind of selfish goals, right? These are goals that are based on your status amongst a group, rather than based on your status with relation to your capacity. And that's what rational humility is about. Am I meeting my capacity? Am I continuously refining to better maximize my own potential? So I want this sense of humility to be embedded deeply in you and in me. I want it to be a core way that we view the world because this is the only way that we surpass our own limits. This is the only way that we recognize that we have a lot to learn. This is the only way that we can actually have conversations with people that we disagree with, have collaborations with people that we disagree with, and come out on the other end of it better, changed for the better. Recognizing that other people have value that they can add, rather than receding to either side, there's kind of this weird dichotomy that people tend to go to kind of this polarization where all the way on one side, you're so confident in yourself and you're almost edging on narcissism. And you believe that no one can tell you that you're wrong, right? This is very often is paired with cynicism. On the opposite, on the flip side of that is you feeling like you're always wrong and you feeling like you have no value to add to the world. This is where we get a lot of people living in imposter syndrome perpetually because they don't feel like they're able to overcome the mountain of refinement that they need to do to be able to reach their potential. Somewhere in the middle is where we find this rational humility. Recognizing that you have a lot of room to grow, but also letting that fuel you forward and using that fuel to meaningfully interface with other people. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Developer Tea. I want you to take some time and really explore this idea for yourself. And there's two ways I want you to do that. The first is to answer this question. If you have a daily journal or something like that, you can answer it in there or if you have a note taking app that you use, something like that. But the question is very simple. What was the last time that I changed? That can be changing your perspective. It could be learning something that really shifted the way that you think. These are very important things for us to be aware of. If you can't remember the last time that you changed, it's very possible that it's time for you to do some more self-examination and understand how to practice this rational humility that I've talked about in today's episode. The markings of that are going to be change, learning, shifting the way that you think to become better. The next thing I want you to do is a little bit more difficult and a little bit more long-term. But in the next time you encounter conflict with another person, especially if you encounter conflict with a coworker. This doesn't have to be personal conflict. It could be conflict in your opinions about the way something should go and the way something should be built, maybe, in a what tool to use or what method, methodology to use. What I want you to do is take some time to intentionally and systematically write down why the other person's argument makes more sense than yours. This is a contrived experiment. This is a contrived activity because sometimes, again, rationally speaking, your argument may be better than theirs. I want you to open your mind and see things from their perspective. This exercise will help you develop humility. Because once you start seeing something from someone else's perspective, when you return to your own perspective, you can recognize the differences. You can recognize where your opinion may be failing to meet the goals that both of you have. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You can find me on Twitter at J.Cutrell and, of course, at Developer Teaas well. This show is on spec.fm. This is the network for developers and designers who want to level up in their careers. That's our goal on the network. That's my goal on this show is to help you become a better developer. Thank you to Linode for creating tools that help you become a better developer. The servers that are an excellent deal, incredible service, and they're giving you $20 worth of credit, head over to spec.fm slash Linode. Of course, using the code Developer Tea2017 will get you that $20 worth of credit. Thank you so much for listening. Make sure you subscribe if you don't want to mess out on the future episodes of Developer Tea. We're going to be talking about traits of a great developer. This is the Developer Career Roadmap. Traits of a great developer series. I don't want you to mess out on those future traits. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time, enjoy your tea.