One Simple Trait That Will Advance Your Software Career

Todd Davis
11 min readMar 31, 2018

Software engineering can be an absolutely thankless job. Oh sure, it has its perks. You get to be creative and solve problems, and there is a beauty and elegance in well written code sometimes that can be hard to describe to those that don’t speak the language. Where we were once portrayed almost universally as pocket-protector-wearing, tape-on-the-glasses nerds, Hollywood now depicts us as elite hackers that can sit down at a never-before-seen terminal and instantly predict the passwords to any government agency in the world, and find a way to copy and then delete their entire database onto a USB drive in under 60 seconds. I wish. I don’t think I could hack my own laptop let alone anyone else’s, and some days it can take me more than a minute just to copy some Word documents to my USB drive.

The reality of being a programmer is a bit less sexy than our Hollywood counterparts however. Our bosses and co-workers don’t give a damn about how elegant our code is. They don’t understand that we are asked every single day to estimate how long it will take to code features and fixes that we have absolutely no idea about until that very moment. Frankly, we’re often asked to do things by people that have no idea what they are even asking us to do! Our worth is often measured by our ability to crank out code at a record breaking pace, and our willingness to work insane amounts of hours doing so. Impossible deadlines are common. Work/life balance can often be non-existent. And as we all know, one “aww shit” can wipe out volumes of “atta-boy’s”. At the end of the day, it’s your job to produce, and unlike sales-people and executives, going above and beyond doesn’t often net you a trip to the Bahamas, a gold watch or a profit-sharing check. In fact, working harder usually only ends up raising others expectations of you, and when you fall short of that new bar you just set, you end up looking and feeling like a slacker.

We all look at people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and think that if we were just more talented, more creative and more driven that we’d be more successful at our jobs. We stay up until the wee hours of the morning learning the latest new frameworks and technologies, spend entire weekends refactoring our core libraries to be faster and more efficient, and in many cases we end up…

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Todd Davis

This is my life. These are my words. If I choose to own my life story, then I can decide how the story ends.