Geeks With Blogs
George Clingerman

April 17th, 2007 is a day that has been burned into my mind. This is the day I was given a very serious task. This is the day I was branded with a mark. The mark is for a brotherhood. The task I was assigned was to spread the gospel of the brotherhood to others. Later, I was to then brand those ready to accept the tenets of the faith with the mark of the brotherhood. I was to assign to them my task and make it theirs. I was to continue in this work in perpetuity.

What is the brotherhood? It’s a vision of Justice Gray. It is a vision, no, a FEVER, that we should all have as developers. A passion, drive and desire to not accept our current level of “developer-ness” but to push on and to improve upon our developer state of being. Then to take that a step further and spread this vision, this fever, this passion to other developers until those we work with and the development community at large has all been branded. Until we all are improving ourselves and each other.

Until now I have been failing my brothers, you and most importantly myself in carrying out this task.

Until now.

You see, I had lofty plans. Big ideas. I truly intended to walk this road to enlightenment with the brotherhood from the start. Instead, I got sucked down into the same pit the brotherhood is trying to rescue others from. The pit of developer stagnation and inactivity. I didn't become the better developer I was planning on becoming. I didn't help others become better developers. I didn't pass the torch and give others the mark. This is how that happened.


Agile isn't just a development practice

I spent so much time making plans, having ideas, creating designs that I never even got on the road to enlightenment. I could see the road, but I was not quite ready to march on it. I wanted my words to be perfect. I wanted to say things the right way. In the end, I didn't say anything at all. We've seen this in coding so many times. We spend so long on designing a class, thinking about efficiency issues that might arise and in the end, the deadline is there and nothing has been coded. I talk about this with developers a lot, telling them make it work THEN make it work better. I should have taken my own advice. That first day, I should have announced that I was joining in the march and picked some others. Instead, I find myself three months later looking back and trying to decide where the time went and why I didn't write ANYTHING. Don't over-design, don't over think and sometimes, it's good just to get started. Writers and artists will tell you, the worst thing to stare at is a blank piece of paper. Doodle something on it, write something on it. Coders should take that same advice. Don't stare at an empty class. Code a little something in it, get those creative juices flowing. Start marching towards your goal. I should have started this march three months ago. The nice thing is it's not too late to start now.  


Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Throughout the last three months, I could create a thousand reasons for why I did not just write one little post. In the end, it comes down to “ME” not being a priority. I often pushed a lower priority project up on my list to take over a higher priority project. Myself. You should always be on your priority list. There is never a good reason you should not be on your own project list. I did this to myself too much. I let other things in my life replace my own importance.  The whole point of this "becoming a better developer" process is to get developers to focus on themselves. Not just in the technical sense (although that is important), but in the overall process of "being" a developer. That includes all aspects of you. You can not become better developers (or help others become better developers) if you are not a priority to yourself.  


Nothing risked, Nothing gained

I was scared. I am still scared. Most of my life I have been scared. This has impacted me in so many areas of my life and continues to be a deterrent from helping me become a better developer. If I don't speak up, if I don't take the risks (read "opportunities") that are presenting themselves to me. I will not become a better developer. I will stagnate and disappear. This is a hard one to overcome. Childhood is hard on geeks. We get used to hiding to avoid the ridicule often associated with being smart and having poor social skills. Unfortunately, this can set us up for the rest of our lives to never reaching our true potential as fully self-actualized developers. I recently did a Code Camp presentation and it obsessed me for months. Did I spend a lot of time preparing for it? No. I spent a lot of time keeping my fingers from hitting send on the email that said, "I'm sorry, I won't be able to speak at Code Camp". Fear almost kept me from doing something that turned out to be a fun experience. And it consumed so much of my life at that point, that it prevented me from doing a lot of other things. Don't let fear stop you from becoming a better developer. Take those risks..I mean opportunities!


My goal in sharing with you some of the things that were holding me back is to get you to evaluate your own life and situation to figure out what is holding you back. It might be the same things, it might be something different. I do know this, there is no excuse for not becoming a better developer. There is no "right time" to start. You don't need to wait for the planets to align, you don't need to wait for the big project at work to be over, and you don't need to wait until the baby is born. The time is now.

Now is the time to become a better developer.

Posted on Friday, June 22, 2007 9:40 AM The Brotherhood of Becoming Better Developers | Back to top

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