A basic truth about your software career: It’s not about you
A simple truth about opportunity in the world of software is that most of the paying work lies in the fulfillment of other people’s desires. This means that staying busy (read: gainfully employed) will consist of working on projects that start in someone else’s head. Stated bluntly, the majority of your professional career will be centered around bringing other people’s ideas into reality.
Let’s face it. If everyone had the time and ability to learn how to program there wouldn’t be a need for software professionals. Luckily for us, most people don’t want to learn how to talk to machines. This creates great opportunities because lots of people want to leverage the power of computers but they need someone to help them do it. This is where we have the ability to shine. With our help, our users and clients can achieve the leverage they desire. We serve as the key to a world where their information needs are met with our assistance.
The basic idea behind this strategy of helping clients get their information in order is service. If you want to earn a living then you must learn to be of useful service to your clients. Personally, I find a great satisfaction in serving the needs of others so this arrangement suits me. I also like technology so it’s like getting paid to fiddle with trinkets and ideas that I already have a desire to learn. The fact that I get to earn a living helping people achieve goals inside my area of expertise is icing on the cake. All you need to be successful is to keep learning while cultivating your desire to help others.
If you’ve been in the field for awhile you’ve likely had to face deadlines or constantly shifting requirements. It can be difficult to retain an attitude of humble service when users are breathing down your neck while your trying to concentrate on fixing an issue that’s holding up production. Maybe your boss has changed his or her mind about a critical piece of functionality for the sixth time in so many weeks and drops the change on you with the attitude that “it’s no big deal”. If your goal is to become a true professional in this field then you must learn to take these nutty developments in stride. Above all you have to retain an attitude of humble servitude toward your users and clients. Without them you’d be out of a job!
The moral here is: If you can remain focused on humble service to others when conditions around you are constantly changing then you’re well on your way to success.