Coming Up for Air

Best Advice I've Been Given: Check Your Ego

The Red Hat twitter account just asked this question: "Communities grow by uplifting others. What is one piece of advice you’d offer to a new developer? Reply below and then check out some advice from #RedHatter @somalley108." Here’s my input.

As a general rule, if you’re writing software, you’re probably pretty intelligent. That intelligence, while important, of course, can also become a hindrance. For example, I’ve been told by coworkers, "You may write buggy code, but I don’t" and "We don’t need techincal oversight". I think both of those statements are patently false, and they — and others like them — always take me back to that advice from my first manager, Chris Anderson, gave me way back in 1997:

Check your ego at the door.

It’s really easy to walk in to a coding review, a design session, or one of a myriad of other meetings with your ideas and think they’re the best. It’s also really easy to overlook the fact that other people in that room are also pretty intelligent — maybe even more so (it happens), and that we all have blindspots and weaknesses. In my experience, and I’ve certainly been on both sides more than I care to admit, many conflicts in software development are ego-driven. There’s a difference between being passionate about something and being an arrogant jerk. The latter type does nobody any good, so check your ego. Go in humbly, and see what there is to learn from your coworkers, even if you’re more senior than they. With that mindset, everyone will come out a winner.

tags: General

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