How Do You Suck?
I was talking with a good friend last night, and she mentioned that I was a great programmer. I found that a little surprising, as despite the unlikeliness of a lot of what I achieve, I don’t generally think of myself in this way.
pic by striatic
I’ve thought a lot more deeply about this since, and I’ve realised a few things – that apply to any area of skill.
People who are not-so-good in any area tend to look down the tree at those below them on the skill ladder – “Look! I’m better than all those people!”
People who are good in any area tend to look up the tree “See how much more I have to learn!”
This is also part of a natural continuum (great word!) of learning:
- unconscious incompetence (you don’t realise you suck)
- conscious incompetence (you realise you suck)
- unconscious competence (you don’t realise you don’t suck as much as you thought you did)
- conscious competence (you know you don’t suck – and why!)
For example, in Aikido I’m somewhere between step 2 & 3. I’m aware of how much I suck (the more deeply you learn, the more you can see that needs improvement) – but I don’t realise that I don’t suck in general (and am always a little surprised when someone points this out). This isn’t a negative self view, as much as a genuine desire to improve & a focus on this, rather than comparison with others.
Interestingly, I can very concretely remember a time when I genuinely believed I was awesome at Aikido. How wrong I was (in hindsight)!! *laugh*
The real trap, of course, is being aware of the dangers & massive difference between stage 1 & 3. Unwarranted ego-centricism is, after all, known as hubris, & we all know how dangerous the ego is, right kids?