It’s funny how one decision can make big consequences. One day I was just browsing through my Audible recommendations when I saw one book that spiked my interest. “Soft skills, a software developer’s life manual”, by John Somnez. Through a couple of detours, like a trip to simple programmer.com, that decision is why you are reading this right now.
Not your average book about software
As John writes in the the book:
This book is not about what you can do, it’s about you.
What I like about the book is that it is very practical. At the end of every chapter, there is a short section called “Taking action”. Here John tells you exactly what you can do to take advantage of the advice in that particular chapter. That’s a really good thing because you’ll need to actually take action for this book to do anything for you. It can take quite a lot of time and effort to implement the things in this book but I think it is worth it.
Though I haven’t implemented much of the advice yet, it has shifted my thinking in a lot of ways. John’s advice resonates with me quite strongly. Most of us tend to get fixated on writing code, or just how we do our jobs and lose sight of a lot of the things that can improve our lives the most. This book is an attempt to help you get those things back on track.
Learning by doing
In the book, John also talks quite a bit about how every dev should have a blog. Here he lists quite a few other dev blogs. At first, I was sceptical. Eventually, I went to a few to the blogs he mentioned and started reading them. I fell in love almost instantly. I loved how funny and easy to read the posts were. I’d love to tell you that I decided to make my own blog then and there, but that would be a lie. It took me quite a while and some self-persuasion to start this blog. Even after I already made a blog about my Camino de Santiago, it took me quite a while to actually launch the whole thing.
After having checked out some of the blogs in the book, I decided to go and check out John’s own blog called Simple Programmer. His blog is a bit more software focused but still an incredible recourse. Here you can find about as much blog posts, videos, podcasts, courses and other recourses as you can imagine, and then some. There is a LOT on that website. I highly encourage you to go and have a look.
As you go to simpleprogrammer.com, you’ll be greeted by a popup about one of John’s courses. Some of these you have to pay for, some are free. I just want to focus on one of those free ones for a moment, called “How to create your blog”. This is a free email course, where John sends you emails with advice and tips to create a blog like this over the course (get it?) of 3 weeks. Like with everything John does, he gives you homework. This post is actually an assignment I have neglected to do for very long (sorry Mr Somnez, my dog ate the assignment). Like I talked about before, I let perfectionism get the better of me for too long. I’m glad I eventually did it though. Better late than never, right?
Teaching people to suck
Personally, I discovered that I just enjoy blogging. But there is another reason that I did it and that I want you to do it as well. The best way to learn something is to teach it. Through a blog, you can potentially teach thousands of people. There is a surprising amount of value in trying to help others.
One of the best things you can learn is to embrace the fact that you suck. Especially when you begin in something, you’re not very good at it. One of the best skills you can develop is to learn to not let that hold you back. That’s what I’m trying to teach you and me with this post. It’s not good, and I know that, but I’m publishing it anyway. I’m doing that because I know that if I keep publishing I’ll eventually get better. That’s why I want you to start doing it as well.
Sometimes you have to remember that you are your own worst critic. I know that I sometimes hold myself to unreasonable standards. Sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t perform at your best all the time. One thing I try to remember with this is that mediocrity is rarely offensive. It’s okay to sometimes just put out something that you know isn’t as good as you’d like it to be. Especially if it’s something you do just for the enjoyment, it’s best to just accept that it’s as good as it’s going to be and just move on. Try to assess whether the project can actually improve, whether it can still teach you something. If not just move on, it’s not worth your time.