Saturday, January 14, 2017

Don't Feel Bad that You Don't Know Everything

It's been a few months since I've written a blog post. I've been busy re-learning things for my presentations, figuring out how to do all kinds of material design concepts around animations, snack bars and expansion panels, working on a podcast, creating a class, preparing for a workshop, learning the latest and greatest about MvvmCross and playing with my Swift demo code to make updates as a result of Swift 3.

That's just a small sample of of what I've been trying to keep up with in the past several months. I keep telling myself I just have this one last push and it will be over for a while, but there is always another surge of learning and work right around the corner. So here I am at 1:30 AM on a Saturday morning, trying to know everything there is to know about mobile and realizing I still don't.

Mobile and responsive web weren't the first things I did this with. Before that it was various flavors ASP.Net, Silverlight, Remoting. general .Net, VB and COM, FoxPro and before that Clipper and DBase. Most of us understand the idea that we will spend our our entire careers learning and re-tooling. But here's the rub, the velocity of change has increased dramatically and the variety of things to know has similarly increased, seemingly exponentially. If you feel confused or guilty because you don't know it all, don't be. You can't, no one can.

If you go to the latest VSLive or Evolve, don't feel guilty if the speaker is giving a presentation on whatever is new and you haven't touched it yet. Here's the reality. The speaker probably has only been working with some of these new technologies for a few months, because that's all we could have been working with them. Here's another reality check, when I listen to someone else and they know about something I don't, I think to myself "How do they keep up with all this stuff?" I suspect many other speakers similarly think that about others from time to time.

Why do we feel this way, why are we so hard on ourselves? Partially because we've got it in our heads that we have to know it all.

There was a time, probably around 1999, where I though I knew everything about using VB 6 with COM that there was to know. I even knew a great framework to use with it, CSLA. I thought I had it all locked down. I probably was a bit overconfident but wasn't overly far off in my thinking. The amount there was to know about that topic was comparatively finite. Of course all my illusions were shattered soon after when I heard rumblings of something new on the horizon that would become known as .Net.

Fast forward 18 years and I don't think anyone fully knows all there is to know about Xamarin for iOS, Android and Mac, much less everything in Forms. Not even close. There is just too much to unpack. When I think I am getting even remotely close to unpacking it, it will be time to start looking at Android O and iOS 11, oh and by the way here are the new changes to C#. Don't even get me started on Azure.

As an industry we have got to stop expecting that we will know it all. We can't know it all. Instead, keep your eyes and ears open, absorb what you can, when you need to, and write your best code. You don't need to know everything to write good code and create things that provide value. If you don't know the latest language keyword they added to C#, that doesn't make your code bad. People were writing good code without that keyword last year and more than likely your code is still just fine without it.

We have to stop being so hard on ourselves.

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