I finally got around to reading through The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’m not finished with the book yet, but so far, I really really like this book. The principles laid out are clear, profound, and easy to understand. I definitely wish I’d read this book four or five years ago (I’m only twenty four, I wouldn’t have appreciated it any earlier than that).
Yesterday, I got to the part where Stephen Covey talks about writing a personal mission statement. He provides two examples from two individuals he’s worked with. One is formatted as a list of simple ideas, the other is formatted as an essay. I’m going to go with a list format. Some of these things are things I haven’t been doing, but they’re things that I want to do.
- I continuously learn, grow, and improve.
- I approach the world with an open mind and an open heart.
- I strive to be a role model.
- I look out for my family, my friends, my coworkers, and my students.
- I take the initiative.
- I reach out to those who matter, in all aspects of my life.
- If I feel immobile in a situation, I figure out what I can do and do it.
- I try to share what little knowledge and wisdom I do have with those who need or want it.
- If I am in a moral predicament, I seek wisdom from others before acting.
- I add to this list as I continue to experience life.
Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
I’ll just do part 3 now because I can.
A big ego helps
My ego has inflated massively in the five or so months I’ve been at my company. In some ways it’s caused me a bit of trouble (it’s certainly not a good habit for me to talk over my boss sometimes!), but it’s been mostly beneficial. If I didn’t believe I was all that and a bag of chips, I would have had less confidence in my skills, I would have felt less comfortable helping lead efforts to educate the new waves of SDETs we’ve hired the past couple of months.
Even long before that, when I began participating and giving presentations for my university’s web developer club, I had to have some level of confidence in my skills for me to feel comfortable demonstrating them to the others. I had to believe that I had something they didn’t have. When I became a secretary for the club, I had to believe I was the best man for the job to run for the position.
Your ego doesn’t have to be massive like mine has become, and especially if you’re first starting out you don’t want to come across as a know it all. But you do need to be able to believe that your leadership is valuable, and therefore believe that you are more capable than other individuals around you.
I wrote a part 1 to this piece that I published on December 17th, 2017.
I’ll be continuing this thought stream as other ideas come to mind, but there’s one particular point I want to make.
You can be the blind leading the blind if you are less blind than your followers
I don’t have all the answers. I will never have all the answers. But that’s okay because I have some answers that some other people don’t. As a twenty four old junior to mid level software developer, I’m but a grasshopper compared to most people in the industry. However, compared to a nineteen or twenty year old college sophomore with no relevant work experience and little clue where to even begin, I’m a wise, successful, experienced, knowledgeable adult. I take advantage of this position because their plight is still relatively fresh in my mind, and I can think about their problems in a similar frame of mind (i.e.: How should I structure my resume? What should I be looking for in the first place? How important is what I do at my first internship?).
Similarly, I’m only a couple of months further along in my employment at my company than the waves of other junior SDETs we’ve brought on board, but unlike almost all of them, I’ve had several (seven) directly relevant work experiences in the industry before my current job, and tying back to an idea I touched on in part 1, I have been there longer than them. This enables me to be a guiding force and a beacon of knowledge and hope.
Part 3 here.
Right now, I am effectively the senior junior SDET in my company’s automation testing movement. The company actually hired a guy who was supposed to fulfill a role like that, but he joined much later than I did, and my name and presence are far more recognizable among our junior SDETs and our overarching quality team than his. Before that, I was the public relations lead and a mentor for my university’s startup club my last semester in school, and I was secretary of my university’s web developer club for my last two semesters in school. Even before that, I had begun leading and mentoring other younger, less experienced students in some capacity as early as autumn 2014, though I wasn’t all that great at it to start.
Some people think I’ve always been a leader. That group consists entirely of people who have only met me in the past two years or so. I am not a natural leader, but I can share what I did learn about leading.
It begins with persistence of presence
My first kinda sorta real-world leadership experience was in the autumn 2014 semester when I was tasked with leading an effort to revamp my school’s electronics club website. I started with eight students under my sphere of influence. By the end of the semester, that number dropped to three or so, and one guy who was much better with design than I was essentially took the whole project into his own hands.
We did deliver an attractive and revitalized electronics club website, but obviously, that leadership experience ended unsuccessfully for me. However, the reason I was even given the opportunity to lead the project by the club president in the first place was because I had been an active club participant pretty consistently for the previous two semesters. I understand now that by sheer participation and activity, over time you will become more and more prominent in your field. Even if your presentations are hard to follow and lackluster, even if you miss some meetings, the more you hang around, the more people, especially newer people, will see you as an expert.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.