I’ve recently been reading a book called ‘In the End, People Who Do Things Immediately Get Everything’ which is a loose and unofficial translation of the title ‘Kekkyoku “sugu yaru hito” ga subete wo te ni ireru’; a Japanese book about getting things done and succeeding in life.
This book leads you through a path of many realisations about your own behaviour and way of thinking and offers tips to help overcome these pitfalls. I realised whilst reading this book that many of the pitfalls presented are apparent in a lot of developers that I have had the pleasure of talking to.
I don’t think it’s available in English, but I’ll go through one of the topics that I found particularly relatable and how I think it applies to us engineers. For those of you who can read Japanese, you can buy the book on amazon.
I DON’T NEED HELP, I CAN DO THIS ALONE
A mindset that you see often, especially in the engineering world and completely self-destructive. I don’t know for sure, but I’m willing to bet a lot that the large majority of successful people didn’t do it alone. Common knowledge, nothing new, it got boring a long time ago. We all know this but a large portion of us still go it alone anyway.
I don’t want to go into reasons why we do this, an honestly I’m not interested either. All I know is that I did it, lots of people do it and you probably did it too, maybe you’re still doing it. That, and it has to stop.
Getting help though, isn’t just asking people; we live in a very convenient world now-a-days and according to this book, there are six sources of outside help we can utilise.
THE 6 SOURCES OF OUTSIDE HELP
I’ll get right into it and just throw them at you. The six sources are:
Other people. Simple.
Tools and objects you can use to help you complete whatever it is you are doing. This includes things like power tools, computers and software, vehicles, etc.
Because some things can be solved by money.
- Knowledge and Information
What knowledge and information do you have access to that will help you get the job done? With the internet, lots.
- Skills and Know-how
Skills and/or know-how you can utilise to help you. Think, touch typing, the ability to drive, etc. It also points out if you don’t have the time or don’t want to learn the skills required, that suggests going back to source one: people (that have that skill).
- OthersAnything else you can think of to help you. In the book it points out things like films, karaoke, meditation, outdoor activities and sports that “bring out the power in you”.
UTILISING THE 6 SOURCES OF OUTSIDE HELP AS A DEVELOPER
Now you know them, but as a developer how do you utilise them? What fits into those categories that are applicable to people like us? Well, this is entirely my humble opinion now, but I have an idea or two.
This is the easiest of the lot and all it takes is a little reaching out. Find people that know about and can do what you are trying to accomplish and contact them. Post on a forum or a place like stackoverflow. There are tonnes of ways to get in contact with people, utilise them.
Recently I have been really interested in getting more involved with open source software. At first it’s quite daunting and finding projects, for example, might be difficult. I acknowledged this and reached out to a developer that I respect and who I know can help me. He was nice enough to write me a very detailed and long email about what he thinks is best to do and tips to help me. I reached out, and now I’m better off for it
What can I use to help me get this task done? That’s one of the first questions I try to ask myself after reading this section of the book. The things that especially applies to us developers are libraries, plugins and frameworks. One thing you hear experienced and skilled developers say a lot is don’t reinvent the wheel. It’s true, especially when the person that invented the wheel before you can do a better job.
This isn’t an option for all of us, but outsourcing work, paid services and software all exist and aren’t a bad idea if it is an option for you and is appropriate for the situation.
KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION
Documentation, books, online articles. New knowledge and information isn’t hard to come by in this day and age. Imagine the days with no internet. Now imagine the days where books were rare, expensive and hard to come by. Now imagine the days where unless you were a noble or a monk, you probably couldn’t read. Now think about how lucky we are and don’t neglect this privilege.
SKILLS AND KNOW-HOW
With the boom of MOOCs it’s now more than ever, easy to pick up new skills. Luckily for us techy people, the people that create MOOKs the most are other techy people. There’s a wealth of courses, often free that you can use to add new skills to your repertoire.
There are of course also, physical courses you can go to and the option of learning via videos on services like YouTube too.
This one, I feel is more of a personal one. Things that will give you a refresh, draw out motivation, give you a break so you can attack the problem again or just help you focus.
For me, I love to go on walks for an hour or so and listen to podcasts. My favourite podcasts are Programming Throwdown and Talk Python to Me. These are both programming podcasts so I get the added benefit of gaining knowledge too.
OK, SO HOW DOES THIS HELP ME?
I really don’t need to write this as I’m sure it’s obvious, but for completion I’ll go ahead and do it anyway.
The biggest and most direct benefit of these is that it helps you to get things done more quickly, especially if you hit a rut or get stuck on a problem. There is however another benefit, that is in my opinion even better and even more important that the previous one; self-improvement.
Through a lot of these sources of outside help you gain knowledge, skills and connections too. And as a developer this is one of the most important things; progress. If you stand still in the world of Computer Science you will be left behind, full-stop.
It wasn’t long ago when mobile phones were large blockly machines with black and white screens used for calling, texting and playing snake. Compare that to present mobile phones and the gap is crazy. Don’t end up on the wrong side of that gap.
You’ve made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.