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Be an Otter

River Otter

A developer can take many approaches to one’s job. They can float along lazily using just enough effort to keep their head above water, or they can latch onto what is already known and stay adrift for a time. There’s plenty of ways to be, but the way I want to talk about is being like an otter.

Otters are quick, nimble, and seemingly fun loving. Always looking forward to their next challenge -- they approach life eagerly and with a playful mindset. Naturally inquisitive, they investigate solutions to solve problems. They are sociable creatures, living and working in groups called romps (rafts if they’re in the water). Otters have been observed to use rocks as tools or even just to keep themselves occupied. They will even hold on to each other when they sleep so they don’t drift apart.

Two Sea Otters Holding Hands

Be joyful like an otter

Three Otters

As developers we should live by the example of the otter. If you can’t approach your problems with joy at least attempt to be playful. Your state of mind is important and affects your team members more than you may realize.

Be quizzical like an otter

Otters deep in thought

Problems are just solutions waiting to be found. Investigate new patterns and solutions. Stay lean and nimble like an otter, find new ways to do things you already know how to do.

Be social like an otter

A Raft of Sea Otters

Make use of your team. They can help you reach personal and professional goals. There is a multitude of resources available to you as a developer. Entire communities on Slack, Discord, Twitter, and other networks and sites are at your fingertips where you will find people more than willing to help you learn or talk about whatever tech you're into. If you live in a metropolitan area it's possible someone is organizing tech meetups. If not (or even if so) you could start your own. You could attend a nearby hackathon. It gives you the opportunity to push yourself to do something you normally wouldn't, like work with new people or with ones you wouldn't usually. It also allows you to see what the other participants and teams are capable of and exposes you to new ideas through interacting with and listening to such a variety of people.

Be ingenious like an otter

Otter playing with rock

Make use of the tools at your disposal. FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) is bigger than ever. That means those tools are available to you as well. Don’t be afraid to have fun either. You can learn a lot through play. If you want to learn a new language or how to use a new framework start a project. Pet projects are almost intrinsically valuable.

Be an otter

Sea Otter

It's difficult to decide how to act in life without a model. If your goal is to hone your craft as a developer following the model of the otter can take you far both professionally and in your personal quest. Another model may be a better fit for you personally but at least now you are aware of how to be like an otter.

Otter with cupcakes

Top comments (1)

nssimeonov profile image

Are you so sure about otters?