Don’t be arrogant. Be humble and teach.

April 12, 2019

We shouldn’t be arrogant about things we understand that others don’t.

Recently I remembered a poker article that I read years ago. The gist was: Don’t think yourself superior to another player because you understand something about the game that they don’t. There was a time when you didn’t understand it, either. You had to learn. We are all at different parts of an ongoing learning journey.

In the midst of a busy day, it’s easy to get annoyed by a request for help with something that seems trivial.

But as developers, we’re all imperfect. We all have blind spots. Sometimes you might think you’re going in the right direction in solving a problem, even though you’ve been working on it for a long time. And sometimes, a teammate can take a look at that problem and solve it for you instantly. It’s not that they’re better than you, it’s just that we all have different backgrounds and strengths. A fresh perspective can be not only fresh but totally novel.

So believe in yourself and know that you can do anything. But also be humble, and know that you will make mistakes, despite your best efforts. And remember this when you’re working with someone who’s struggling with a topic that you find easy. You’re not superior to them, or anyone else. Be patient, and try to help and teach. Guide them toward your way of looking at the problem. This approach is productive and avoids negativity. And you grow personally as a teacher and leader. Through this lens, a request for help is not an inconvenience at all, but an opportunity and a gift.