Some days, actually most days, I feel like a hack at some point or another at work, writhing the software. There is always something I do not know and something I need to learn. Actually, I believe, learning is why I love my work. I have been programming on and off since 1980, starting with a programmable calculator at middle school age back in Ukraine. I enrolled into a science high school after that, taking programming for another four years. I took a long break after coming to America and working hard as an equipment repairman, earning my living the hard way. I have gotten my first IT job as a developer in the US in 1996, and that is what I have been doing professionally ever since. I love what I do for many reasons. I find my job challenging, and I enjoy a challenge in my life. I face problems and do my best in overcome them. I like solving business problems with technology, helping people in the process. I like human aspects of my job, communicating with customers and co-workers alike. I feel that my constant learning helps me grow professionally and a s person. I feel that my occupation gives me plenty of an opportunity to do so.
Nonetheless, I feel like I do not know know enough on a daily basis, even after decades of practice. I think this is what drives me to learn more and more every day. One of the way I learn is by researching and asking questions. I do like when people I ask questions of give me a good explanation if they can. I strive to do the same when people ask questions of me. I try to explain what I know and help people. I do not feel like I need to boast or tell them they are wrong. I feel like I can learn from every person I talk to, and conversely, they can always learn something from me. I do my best not to discard anyone’s opinion, but try to understand why people ask me the questions they do.
At times I may not phrase my questions politically correctly, and neither do many other people I know, maybe all of them. I feel like I should not be watching my every word, trying not to offend people, while talking with them. Sometimes I make mistakes, and I know I can apologize and move on. By the same token, I expect the same from other people as well, especially those that know more than I do. Sometimes I get that attitude from and sometimes I do not. Interestingly enough, many of the people I consider my mentors are polite and understanding. I would be unfair if I did not mention Rocky Lhotka. I worked with him for years at the same company, and truly consider him my #1 mentor. I never heard him be rude to anyone or bring people down just because they disagree with him or his opinions. He never discards anyone’s opinion and does he best to understand why a person says what he says and provide the best answer he can, explaining his opinion in details. There are other people who are not like him. They may be very smart, but they come across condescending, while all I am trying to do is learn from them. I am not mentioning any names, and here is why.
I came now full circle to the title of this post. I do not feel guilty for asking incorrect questions, and neither should you my fellow developers. You have to ask questions to learn and grow. If a person is rude to you, just find someone else to talk to. I also do not feel guilty by not knowing everything I want to know, and neither should you. There are only so many hours in a day, and I use them to the best of my abilities.
Bottom line, feel good about your job, feel great about being a software developer, enjoy what you do every day and appreciate what you have right now. Maybe it is my upbringing and background talking, maybe the hours I spent standing in line to buy bread (it may sound like a cliché to you, but it is indeed the truth). Just do your best and learn as you go, none knows everything. There is always something you know better then the next guy, and always something he or shoe knows better than you.
Be happy and do not feel guilty.
Nicely written, Sergey. I know for a fact that you are a very humble man, I wish I could say the same for me.
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