Embrace Change to be Successful

When we are doing our job at our workplace, when we have been doing it for a long time, we become good at it. We also become complacent, and we lose our ability to see better ways of doing our job. We become efficient at following the same process every day, and that could be scary. At the personal level this could look like an excellent thing for you, chances are it actually is, but at the company level, this could be counterproductive.

The competitors to the company you work for could be embracing change and maybe have developed processes to incorporate changes as part of operations. Having an open mindset for change would allow that competitor to have the edge over your organization.

There could be a lot of friction and push-back when a new, needed process is introduced to the company. As an employee, you have to step out of the comfort zone and learn new things. My advice would be to stay open-minded and try to understand what advantages your organization will receive by doing things differently. Do not focus only on the extra amount of effort that will be expected out you. Understand that opportunities to advance or move up within the company will also open up as part of the changes taking effect. Change is good.

I have experienced this hesitation to embrace change. About two years ago, before I got my current job, I worked at a startup, and our tool of choice for managing our repositories was the Github client. When I started my new job, I was told I had to use a different client called SmartGit. It was a pain having to change at the beginning, but I believed there had to be a reason why this developer shop used SmartGit over the Github client. Long story short, two years later, I now prefer SmartGit over the GitHub client.

If you are not as successful as you want to be today, the only thing that might be missing is change.

Why Following your Passion is Wrong.

Recently I might have been rough posting this message on my Instagram account, but I didn’t mean to be harsh. Let me explain.

I used to believe “Follow your Passion” was the most excellent advice anyone could get, especially since Steve Jobs gave this advice on his speech to Standford graduates. It made perfect sense; everyone wants to have a great life and following what you are passionate about should amplify the chances of that happening.

I started listening to the audiobook “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport, and before I even finished the second chapter, I was compelled to think about the message it brought right away.

Look at it this way

First off, a lot of great things that have been invented were not created based on passion. One of the most prominent examples is Apple. Steve Jobs did not get into manufacturing computers because he was passionate about it. He got into that because he saw an opportunity, and it turned out to be a successful business. His passion at the time was spiritualism, and creating personal computers was his primary purpose at that time. He saw an opportunity, and he took it. He focused on making great products and somewhere along the way he became passionate about building great products and, well, you know the rest of the story.

I am a software developer. One of my passions growing up was being or becoming an architect; becoming a software engineer was not one of them. Growing up, I never thought about being a programmer. Surprisingly I can now say that I have a passion for writing software.

Why following your passion could be wrong.

You can follow your emotions at any time. You might even feel passionate about doing something. You can also remain passionate about something for a long time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be happy or prosperous once you start following your “passion.” Let me give you an example; I cannot cook to save my life. Let’s imagine that tomorrow I developed the urge to open up a restaurant and be the chef at this said restaurant. After a few months that call turns into a passion, I pick up cooking and start learning more about it. I take out a loan and open up a restaurant. I followed my passion. If I get lucky that could turn into a “thing,” but that would be highly unlikely because there are many other chefs in my city that have more experience at creating amazing dishes and running a restaurant business. In the end, I could end up in debt due to a failed attempt at running a restaurant.

What’s the alternative? Why being practical pays off

By no means am I wealthy, affluent person or anything related, at least not yet. However, I focused on the craftsman mindset, and I can now say that I am now reaping the benefits of doing that. What is the craftsman mindset? As Cal Newport mentions in his book, we tend to look at the World and try to figure out what the World can do for us, instead of focusing on what we can provide to the World or how we can make it better. In short, taking value instead of offering value. What I realized, early on, while listening to the book was that gaining skills in your current field pays off. Circling back to my story, I stayed firm on polishing my programming skills, learning new things on my own until I reached an adequate level of expertise. Now, I can say I am passionate about what I do and being skilled at it helped.

My Advise/Conclusion

Be practical, find out if the job you currently have has a way to build career capital, which is a way to leverage your experience over time when you go find your next job. Make sure that your job is providing value to the World and that you do not have to deal with people you hate to be able to do your work. If what you are currently doing to earn a living meets any of these three criteria, does not build career capital, does not bring value to the World or having to work with unlikeable people, change careers. Otherwise, hone in on increasing your skill level and be patient to start feeling a passion for what you do. Eventually, you will have enough “career capital” to be successful and be passionate about what you do.

A Tip to Overcome the Impostor Syndrome

The way I started my career was unorthodox, a combination of a bit of college and the vast majority I was self-taught. While working in the construction field for 12 years, I did freelance work as a software developer in my spare time. Shortly after that, I became a co-founder in a small startup that combined my skills in the construction industry and software development. I was very confident and successful (with the help of a friend) in developing the product we were trying to launch, but unfortunately, as the majority of startups, we ran out of runway before getting enough traction. I found myself at a crossroads, asking myself whether I should go back to working in construction full-time or get a job as a software developer.

I chose the latter, and for a while, I struggled with impostor syndrome. Looking back, I don’t think that I should have, because I had enough experience to be competent in the workplace as a developer. Whether the way I felt was rational or not, I still felt somewhat incompetent.

The Struggle

Showing up to work every day for a while was daunting. The uncertainty, whether I was going to be able to step up to the plate, was always looming. The internal struggle was constantly there, and hiding it from colleagues was draining. Appearing confident was taking its toll over time. The primary source of motivation was the fact that I was doing something I loved. I worked hard to get there and earn the opportunity to do it.

Change Your Perception

I kept working hard, stayed humble, and coachable. After a while, I realized that I was competent and capable enough to complete tasks efficiently. I worked hard, always putting a significant emphasis on learning and I still do to this day. The only thing I had to change was my perception of the whole situation. I ended up understanding that I was doing everything I should be doing to do well as a developer. I was too hard of a critic on myself. I started seeing the circumstance as some type of friction I had to overcome. The Universe’s friction is how I came to understand it after reading a few self-help books. The position I had found myself in was something that I will always have to work against one way or another. Focusing on being grateful for the opportunity and continually remembering that I’m allowed to do something I love every day started diminishing the impact that insecurity had on me.

It’s the Universe’s friction. Don’t give up.

I come from a technical background, so naturally, I looked for a logical solution for the way I felt. Trying to learn a new skill or skills seemed like a reasonable way of solving my problem. It turned out, the solution that worked for me was trying to digest the situation more spiritually. The root of the problem was the fact that there was a significant change in my life. I was in a new environment, new job, and new co-workers. Behind the scenes, this big change comes bundled up with a significant dose of uncertainty in your life. Every change in your life will come bundled up this way. Whenever you are trying to get ahead in life, expect this friction to be there, and stay your course.

A Mac vs. PC Experiment for Developers

Talking about Mac vs. PC could trigger a perpetual and heated discussion for both sides. Before I continue, I should clear some things out. Some of you might already be jumping at the bit to correct me. I understand that technically a Mac falls under the personal computer category, so let me give you a few more details about this experiment. I know there are a lot of users who are very passionate about Linux, Unix or other flavors of operating systems other than Windows and MacOS. I apologize in advance; it is not technically accurate to group all non-MacOS operating systems in the “PC” bucket along with Windows. I’m sorry about that, but for the sake of this experiment, I figured it was the best option.

About a year ago I showed my naivete by asking on my Instagram account @thedevlife why developers preferred Macs to do their work. You see, I made the mistake of assuming Macs were more popular. As you might have guessed, I did receive my fair share of messages full of intensity, for lack of a better word. These came mostly from Linux fans who rightfully felt left out. Recently, a young developer who I admire made a post on Instagram making the same assumption. I made that assumption because pictures of Mac computers are trendy on social media and somehow create the illusion that Macs are more popular in development. This erroneous assumption was the main reason that prompted me to run this experiment on Instagram.

The goal of the experiment is not to show that either side is better, it is not an experiment about hardware either. I am not sure what the primary goal for the research was other than the curiosity to know why developers chose one over the other.

These are the results.

1 Hour
6 hours
9 hours
11 hours

When the Instagram story ended 4061 viewed the story and 3203 people voted, the final percentages were 38% for Mac and 62% for PC. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to capture a screenshot closer to the 24 hours a story post lasts.

Reasons in favor of Mac

  • Macs tend to hold their value better
  • Simply because they have used a Mac longer than a PC
  • The user interface is better
  • Is needed to code in Swift and develop iOS applications
  • Windows sucks
  • Beautiful design
  • Easiest way to use a computer
  • Better file structure
  • AirDrop is really helpful
  • No automatic updates
  • Terminal environment
  • Some applications are made only for Mac
  • Easier configuration
  • No driver problems
  • Better battery life
  • Mac is more adequate for UI/UX Design

Reasons in favor of PC

  • A PC is what employers provide at the respective workplace
  • Linux is free
  • More affordable than Mac
  • Windows is a better platform for gaming
  • Windows 10 is stable
  • Better memory management
  • Needed to work with .NET Framework
  • Bigger developer community for Windows
  • More applications
  • More options on hardware
  • Easier to crack a program on Windows
  • Love for Visual Studio IDE
  • Windows is more mainstream in respective city

Many of the reasons shared are debatable and can start a discussion for decades, but please remember these are personal reasons for choosing one side of the other. There are a plethora of reasons why either side was elected, but looking at the results shows that I was indeed mistaken by assuming Macs were popular among developers. Macs might be more popular in some regions, and Mac users might feel more confident to share pictures of their system on social media, but those numbers don’t necessarily represent the number of developers using Mac vs. PC.

How to Choose What to Give a F*ck About

I recently finished reading the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. At first glance you might find the title a bit racy or down right offensive. However, if you are able to make it past the first chapter your perspective will likely change. I have to warn you though, the F-bomb gets dropped several times in the first chapter alone. I stopped counting at twenty because I was too busy laughing.

Average is Now Not Good Enough

One of the things that Manson talks about in this book is that we are constantly being overwhelmed with extraordinary stories on all social media platforms. While we are scrolling on our social media feeds whether it be Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, we are bombarded with bits about the richest, the fastest or the most popular. The book explains that average stories do not sell, a concept I happen to agree with. The media prioritizes the most shocking and appealing content to drive sales and product awareness. This is having negative side effects on minds that are still impressionable. Many people are putting themselves down because their lives or stories are not like the ones they find on social media constantly, therefore they start acquiring a sense of inferiority and self-doubt. Here is where the name of the book comes into play. We should stop caring or “giving a f*ck” about everything we see in the media.

Don’t Try to Always be Happy

Manson criticizes books or ideas that encourage people to always have a positive outlook on things. Sometimes we experience things that are bad and it is ok to not be optimistic about them, but rather deal with them as they come without sugar coating them. He also says, “This book is not a guide to greatness.” To be able to solve the problems in your life you must first be able to cope and embrace the fact that sometimes life or circumstances are crappy. Not everyone will lead an extraordinary life, but empowerment will come to you once you admit to yourself the problems you have and decide to face them.

Final Thoughts

Self-entitlement is very popular right now and is not always good. It is not always the kind of entitlement which makes a person think they deserve some sort of special treatment because they think they are better than others, rather the type of entitlement that comes from a person feeling sorry for themselves. Entitlement also encourages people to be politically correct to an unhealthy intensity. Sometimes people just need to deal with their own problems. As Manson says, we need to choose the values that really matter to us and expect to face the problems that come with upholding those values.

Lesson Learned

Being a web developer is easy in comparison to being an entrepreneur. I’m able to build applications, some take time, but I’m capable of turning an idea into a working service or product. Having help expedites the process, but I’m capable of doing small projects by myself. However, wearing my entrepreneurial hat has been more challenging than developing apps.

Misconceptions about being an Entrepreneur

There is a difference between being a business owner and being an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur has to be able to wear many hats and to have an understanding of software development is only one of them.

Many people picture the entrepreneur life as being glamorous full of excitement and riches, but that is seldom the case. Being an entrepreneur is a tough learning journey.

What lesson did I learn?

I am lucky and grateful that Edifica’s investors believed I had the potential to develop Edifica’s web application with their help. We set out to develop the product and we did a great job doing so. After several months into the development process, we finally had a working application and decided to start marketing.

Soon after we realized we had messed up. We should have started marketing at the same time we started developing the application, maybe even sooner. By the time we were done developing the initial offering, we did not have a community and we didn’t have constant traffic to our site. That was a big problem.

Suggestion                                                                                                                  

If you are currently working on a product and you are planning to make it available to the public, I recommend that you start letting people know about your product right away. You should keep your ears open and listen to any feedback you might get and take that feedback into consideration while the product is still under development. On Edifica’s case, we started gathering feedback after we had a working product. If we had started spreading the word during the development phase, we could have made better decisions about the product’s features. Planning your product’s marketing early on is crucial.