Developer growth

Who defines your success?

Working in the software industry as a developer is a real joy. We are paid to create or contribute to solutions that solve the needs of real users. Alright, some needs are forced, but our solutions usually end up covering a need and delivering some form of value.
Why then the stories of decision fatigue, burnout,  dreams of silicon valley money, conflict and hate in communities, and other success / failure stories? Why aren’t we content with the value we deliver?

The search for success

There seems to be a silent agreement that overtime, high workloads, doing amazing things in public, and as a result earning ginormous sums of money through side-projects is the definition of success as a modern software developer. It’s an unrealistic view on what life of a developer is all about.

Why aren’t you making the next killer app?

 – Espen Dallokken

Espen Dallokken wrote a wonderful post on his thoughts on this exact topic and how false the said assumptions of the “Silicon Valley Developer” really are. Or rather how we focus on the few, and the many strive to achieve what they’ve done.
 “Focus on things that matter in the long run, and slow things down.
What we see on social media or Github punch-cards are the tip of the mountain. Twitter followers, number of subscribers, badges and points on Stack Overflow are trophies showing others how awesome we are.
We don’t see the many, many hours of work and dedication that have gone into achieving said trophies. Yet we raise those achievements up as the end goal and charge on at full speed to achieve the same or similar things.

Defining Success

The definition of success is different for every single person. As mentioned earlier all we see are the trophies, which in turn end up being success factors for our own lives. Yet, for many those trophies are just by-products of doing something they love, where their definition of success comes from the work itself, or the journey with colleagues or any other thing.

“Being average is being normal”

– Espen Dallokken

As Espen says in his post: “Being average is being normal”. Our society despises being average, yet that is where most of are. We are average at many things we do. Even through our averageness there is tremendous value, should we choose to see it this way.

Achieving Success

Focus on things that matter in the long run, and slow things down.

– Espen Dallokken

Glenn Henriksen did a talk on the path to success at and what is involved NDC Oslo 2016, which struck home quite well on how to approach success. I recommend the talk to anyone. It may start your own mind thinking, or maybe solidify your earlier opinions.

In his book “How to Fail at almost Everything and Still Win Big“, Scott Adams touches on his mediocracy around his skills. He also goes into how taking your average skills and combining them creates a unique mix that only you can provide. On the one hand, this means putting your head down to figure out what your mix is, on the other it means each person already has what it takes to achieve success. We just need to stop looking at our life through others’ eyes.

There is no Work-Life Balance

The myth of work-life balance is a silver bullet many have chased and supposedly have an answer to. I would argue that there is no real answer, but rather that we live in a constant state of conflicting priorities. All we can do is define what’s important to us and do our best to maneuver the waters of life.

Here’s a parting video on work-life balance from “The Book of Life” (thanks for the link Espen!).

I urge you to read Espen’s blog post and watch Glenn’s presentation. They are great resources to get the mind-juices flowing and possibly start you on your journey to success.

Do you succeed at work, at home or in life in general? Are you wonderfully average, or at the top of your game?

Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any thoughts, questions or criticisms. Or leave a comment below.