Finding good role models is one of the most crucial aspects of self-improvement.
If you are a developer, look for other developers in your company who are better than you. If you don’t know anyone else in your company who is better than you in any area, either you have an over-inflated opinion of yourself, or it might be time to start looking for a job where you can work with smarter people that help you to grow more. I recommend finding role models both locally and globally.
Local Role Models
These are colleagues and friends that you can see strengths in who can help you to improve as well. Think about the best developer in your company and ask yourself: what is it about them that makes them such a good developer? How do they differ from you? Are they better at handling pressure? Were they always so good? How did they improve? Do they study outside of work? If you don’t know, ask them!
There are a few exceptions, but in general you will find the best developers have many common attributes including:
- Read a lot about design patterns and principles
- Continuously thinking about design and how software can be improved
- Experience of programming in more than one language
- Assertive but not arrogant: unafraid to express their views but also willing to concede to a better one
- Keen on refactoring. Will routinely safely refactor work to eliminate smells that other developers are afraid to touch
- Understand that there is always much more to learn, and are always trying to learn more
- Able to sense when to switch gears; when to slow down to reduce risk, and when to ramp up to deliver faster
- Happy to work alone and also as part of a team
So, if you are not the best developer in your company, get talking to the developer who you believe is the best. Most of the time, they will be more than happy to give you lots of information on how they go about learning new skills, how much time it has cost or money them and what they have gained from it.
Today, we are living in a golden age of information. Most valuable information is available either for free or very low cost. Before the birth of the Internet, obtaining this information was expensive and only the rich could afford it, but we now have many more equal opportunities as this information is now available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Global Role Models
Global Role Models are people who have changed the world for the better that you can use to inspire you and encourage positive behaviours. These can either be people alive today or historical figures. If you are not sure which people could do this for you, I encourage you to read the links below.