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Poison Series: #01 - Cynicism

Published 8/17/2016

In today's episode, we begin a mini-series on developer poisons. Our first poisonous nemesis is cynicism. We'll talk about ways to effectively combat cynicism.

Today's episode is sponsored by RefactorU, the 10-week JavaScript training bootcamp focused on developers dedicated to reinventing themselves. You can get 20% off of tuition by mentioning Developer Tea today! Head over to spec.fm/refactor to get started!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. Today's episode is the first in a series of episodes about developer poisons. Today's poison that we're going to talk about is cynicism. Today's episode is sponsored by Refactor U, the immersive 10 week JavaScript training boot camp with a dedicated careers team. We will talk more about what Refactor U has to offer Developer Tealisteners later on in today's episode. But first I want to talk to you about cynicism. Being cynical is a common problem for developers. If you're not sure on what I mean by cynical, you can go and look it up. The definition that we're talking about today is being bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous or pessimistic. In other words, generally being a negative person and assuming that the ideas of others are not going to work. So whether you call it cynicism or pessimism or negativity, all of these things apply to developers so often. If you think about all of the developer relationships that you have, my guess is quite a few of you have met this cynical developer. This is the kind of person who prefers to say no before saying anything else. They shoot things down, they expect that people will bring them things that are unrealistic as a rule. In an office culture, this kind of person is generally avoided, particularly when new ideas are brought to the table. And sometimes they're even left out of meetings for that very reason. A lot of times this is received as a socially unacceptable form of relationship with clients. And that's a very important distinction here. The cynical or pessimistic or negative developer doesn't lose credibility based on a lack of knowledge. They don't lose credibility based on a lack of skill. The cynical and negative and pessimistic developer loses credibility because instead of empowering people, they often cut the legs of inspiration out from under people. This often comes across as insulting and certainly comes across as defeating, particularly for clients who truly believe in the vision that they are representing. And we have talked about the idea of positivity and possibility being incredibly important for Developer To adopt because the simple fact is that most things are possible given the right resources. Most things are possible given the right circumstances. The poison of cynicism destroys the thing that makes developers so attractive in the first place. The power to create something that previously was not possible. Today we're going to talk about two antidotes for the poison of cynicism right after we talk about today's sponsor, Refactor U. Refactor U is an immersive 10 week JavaScript training boot camp. Students create their own applications and build a portfolio of projects to share with potential employers in the future. Refactor U has a dedicated career services team and they are GI bill approved. They are based in an absolutely beautiful place, Boulder, Colorado. If you have not seen pictures of this place, go and Google it after you listen to this episode, absolutely gorgeous place to live and they have housing resources available. Refactor U is intended for people who are trying to learn to code online, but they're hitting a brick wall. Refactor U is committed to student success regardless of where they came from and where they want to go. Refactor U also offers diversity scholarships for each cohort. On top of all of this, Refactor U is providing a 20% tuition discount when you mention Developer Tea. Go and check it out, spec.fm slash refactor. If you are serious about your career, then you have to make learning a priority and that's exactly what Refactor U will do for you. Go and check it out, spec.fm slash refactor. Thanks again to Refactor U, particularly for the tuition discount for Developer Tea. Listeners. We're talking today about the poison of cynicism. This is pessimism, negativity, all of these words kind of wrap up into the same concept of cynicism, not being able to believe in the vision of another person's idea because you don't think it's going to work. This is such a common problem for developers. I think the reason it's so common for developers is because Developer Tend to have knowledge that clients don't have, otherwise the client wouldn't have a reason to hire the developer. They hire you for what you know. Far too often, the developer ends up looking at the client as if they should know everything about the development process. If they don't, the developer has a tendency to write them off. I know this because I have this same tendency. I have done this many times in the past and I've seen other developers do it countless times. The first antidote to the poison of cynicism is to become a teacher. Become a teacher. This means to become a teacher to all of those around you. In body, the attitude of a teacher. What does this mean? Quite simply, it means that you don't assume that people know what you know. In fact, you recognize that you have an opportunity to help that person in their life by helping them understand some of the things that you know. A good teacher doesn't look at the lack of knowledge in a student. Instead, they look at the potential for future knowledge in that student. An antidote number two, piggybacks right off of the first one, becoming a teacher. An antidote number two is question your own knowledge. In other words, become a perpetual student. If you visit a college campus and talk to any professor at that campus, pretty much all of them will tell you that they are still in research phase. In other words, even though they are teaching others, they do not presume to know everything. Even in very specific subjects, there's still a ton to learn. And this is particularly true for software developers and anyone in a technology field. You will find that if you remain humble as it relates to your own knowledge. In other words, if you recognize that your knowledge is always questionable and that you can always be learning, you will find that that correlates to a lower level of cynicism. Because instead of labeling an idea as failure, you label it as an opportunity. You label it as an opportunity for learning. You recognize as a perpetual student that failure most often leads to learning and that failure is not the end of the road. So cynicism looks at ideas as if they are dead ends. And that's exactly why it's such a poisonous concept for developers. If you avoid every idea and label it as a failure from the start, then you never provide yourself the opportunity to learn through perpetual failure. We talked about this in our great developer mindset series, The Concept of Becoming Accoinated with Failure. Make sure you check out the show notes where we will leave a link to that episode. I hope today's episode has challenged your thinking and has encouraged you to be humble and to become a student and a teacher, to pursue knowledge rather than intellectual superiority. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. If you think that this episode would be enjoyed by someone you know, send them the link. That's the best way for other people to find out about Developer Tea. They're going to listen to you a whole lot more than they listen to a random tweet that they see in their in their timeline. So please share this information with other people. That's the best way to help other people find out about the show. Thank you again to RefactorU today's sponsor. If you are hitting a brick wall with your online learning of how to code, maybe you need to check out RefactorU. They accept the GI Bill. They have diversity scholarships, and on top of that, they have a 20% discount for Developer Tea listeners when you mention Developer Tea. Check it out by going to spec.fm slash Refactor, the 10-week JavaScript Bootcamp. Thank you again to RefactorU. Thanks so much for listening. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss out on Friday's episode and until next time, enjoy your tea.