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Thoughts on "Whiners that Fail"

This week, Robert Martin posted this article: Whiners that Fail  A line that particularly caught my eye was the following: "YOU, and NO    ONE    ELSE, is responsible for your career." ... I think, if asked about this, a lot of people would shrug and say say "yeah, okay, I suppose that's true". But that idea a really life-changing idea if you think it through-at least it was for me when I realized it several years ago. 

For many years, I was a pretty head-down coder- yes, taking pride in my work, yes, getting my work done, and I was pretty good at working the way I'd done, but I wasn't actively looking to improve, and only really hitting new ideas as I accidentally ran into them.  Eventually, I found myself in a particularly difficult/stressful work environment, overworked, supporting a large, complex, high-usage, system with large amount of legacy code of dubious quality. Then, the unthinkable happened-the one colleague who was teaming with me to support the system resigned, and my employer chose not to replace him.  Things got much worse for me.  I saw my future ahead of me, and it was what I was already living: stress, pressure, and a lack of respect- both from those around me, and from myself for the shoddy work I was doing while flailing, falling further and further behind.

In the midst of this, I came to a realization: my employer didn't fundamentally care about code quality, about my health, my happiness, my work-life balance, my career or anything else-all they really cared about was that I was spinning enough plates to keep the clients from leaving.  All of those things were up to me and only me to obtain if I wanted them-they didn't necessarily come automatically, and nobody really owed them to me.  Sure, some employers have a bit more forethought and realize that satisfying these needs is a good way to keep top employees, but it's just a perk-the real responsibility to make sure my life and career is on track is with me, not them. As for code quality, from a selfish perspective, I wanted code quality at least in part so I could look myself in the mirror at the end of the day.  Sure, of course there are real, very important company-centric reasons for code quality, but regardless, cranking out poor quality code day after day was extremely demoralizing.

I thought this through a bit more-then decided that, improving my life hung on my skills and what I had to offer. It was like waking up. I made improving myself my priority-I started reading everything I could get my hands on, and started blogging as a means to force myself to stay focused.  I found I really enjoyed this kind of study, and the habits I built then stuck with me. The actual content of what I've learned since has fundamentally changed and tremendously enhanced the way I think and work, but it was the initial recognition of the need for self-reliance that got me started on the path of improvement.

Posted 02-27-2009 11:56 PM by Anne Epstein



Spike wrote re: Thoughts on "Whiners that Fail"
on 02-28-2009 4:31 AM

Very good said. You are the only one responsible with your life!

Ryan Svihla wrote re: Thoughts on "Whiners that Fail"
on 02-28-2009 3:27 PM

Thanks for sharing. I love the "spinning enough plates to keep the clients from leaving" what a perfect description.

Obviously wrote re: Thoughts on "Whiners that Fail"
on 02-28-2009 10:50 PM

I had a similar experience.  Large (600,000+ lines of C#) complex system in large company (12,000+ employees) originally developed by team of 12 (mostly consultants) that did not include me that was reduced to just me for maintenance and enhancements.  I was keeping up with advancements in technology but my employer couldn't or wouldn't do likewise.  So I found a user group for an up and coming technology that I was interested in learning, found out there were inexpensive weekend boot camps near my home to help me learn more and the next thing I know, through contacts in that group, I get a job where I'm making more money working for a smaller (less than 200 employees) employer and, most important, excited to go to work every day (which occasionally means at home).

Join Me for the Craving Balance Free Workshop Teleclass | Jessica Knows wrote Join Me for the Craving Balance Free Workshop Teleclass | Jessica Knows
on 03-08-2009 3:35 PM

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