This was posted to my personal site on Friday, I then post it here the following Monday. You might consider going there and joining my newsletter to get the latest posts early.
Everyone wants a silver bullet to success, the one simple trick to infinite riches. I spent most of my life thinking these silver bullets don't exist. However, as I am beginning to transition my career, and I am looking to start my own businesses/meetups/workshops I am starting to reconsider. I think I know the one thing any web developer can do to grow their level of success. Show up. Honestly, I think that is all it takes. If you are a dependable person and can show up on time and contribute to things you will be very successful in this industry. I am looking for people who fit these criteria and it is incredibly hard. I have had issues with showing up on time in the past, which led to me working remote, showing up looks differently for different people. I show up by consistently delivering quality work when I say I will. I don't often show up in person though. I also don't plan meetings until afternoon because I have issues waking up on time (judge me). To me "showing up" means you do what you say you will do. If I make a meeting with you, I will be there on time and ready to rock. I have structured my life in a way that allows me to do this. I suggest you do whatever it takes to do the same. I took a gigantic pay cut to do this and you probably can too, because you will end up making the money back when you establish yourself as dependable to a community.
Once a community sees you as a dependable person the doors that start to open to you are crazy. People will jump over each other to try and get some of your time. This will leave you with new problems, like guarding your time against people who fail to "show up" in return. I watch over my schedule with the authority of an unruly dictator. If someone on my schedule starts to consistently waste my time, I will close any door I opened to them. I have a lot of things I am working on, and a family I really enjoy spending time with. Because of this, I have to be extremely careful with how I spend my time. If I allow someone to waste it they are either taking time from my clients, friends, or worst of all family. We have a set amount of hours in a day. If you let foolish people waste yours you become a fool in the eyes of others. They might be hesitant to trust you going forward because they can see you don't respect your own time. When I see people letting others waste their time, I question how reliable they will be. If someone lets others waste there time, I am wary that I may get the short end of the stick one day while they let someone stomp all over their schedule. I will probably trust them with things, but not big stuff. Because of this, I recommend you make sure the people around you reflect positively on your own ability to "show up".
I have had big plans fall apart because the parties involved did not respect my time. In those situations, I would rather have a terrible developer who can show up consistently than a ninja, guru, rockstar, that operates as if the world revolves around them. I am a pretty solid developer myself and could help the poor developer fix their mistakes and grow. I am not sure if there is a way to change someone's perspective of the world, so I tend to just cut those people out of my life. I highly recommend you don't pursue being a better developer at the expense of being a better person. It is not a long term path to success and will leave you isolated even if you end up with all the money in the world, I think Steve Jobs is a great example of that. I hope people learn from him that there is more to success than money and power. Success stems from enjoying the work you do, and then by extension enjoying your life. I find that when you enjoy the work you do you tend to "show up" more regularly. Which leads me to the next reason I am wary of people who don't "show up"
Do you even enjoy what you are doing?
If you fail to show up regularly I can not help but start to wonder... Do you even want to do this? This is a natural question to ask because I tend to see people showing up to things they enjoy. When was the last time you casually strolled into a concert 10 minutes late? How about a meeting? What is the difference? You probably hate meetings if you are consistently late to them no? If this is the case I suggest you restructure your life into something you enjoy more. This reminds me of a line from "Vacation" by the Dirty Heads, it goes like this:
You say you hate your job, but you'll never leave, never leave
But that ain't gonna be me, that ain't gonna be me
My brother called me up said he saw me on TV
I said, "it wasn't easy, but right now I'm living breezy"
Build this engine from the ground up
Now my hands they ain't so greasy, feel me?
This line, unfortunately, reminds me of too many people. I fall strongly into the "that ain't gonna be me" camp. I am willing to make large sacrifices if it moves me further along the axis of career enjoyment I think this is incredibly important as your job makes up such a huge portion of your life. I feel bad for you if you say you hate your job but won't leave, I encourage you to reconsider that position. I highly suggest you look into the writing and speaking of Jason Lengstorf and wake up to the effects this can have on your long term health. You should at least like what you do if you can't love it. Since I believe in this so strongly, if you are showing signs of not enjoying your work, I will write you off as a long term business partner and would need serious reasons to even think about reconsidering. I have no patience for people who hate their job. It makes them slow, unreliable, and often miserable to be around. I love making fresh UI's, I find it enjoyable. I love working from home and making my own schedule. I think my clients and students can see this, as they often comment on how enjoyable I am to work with. It is easy to say "be enjoyable to work with" without addressing that you must enjoy what you do to achieve that.
In summary, I think that "showing up" is all it takes to succeed in web development, however "showing up" probably involves far more than you think it does, and it really stems from a place of enjoying your work. To become an enjoyable dependable option to people, you probably have to make some sacrifices, guard your time, structure your day well, and most importantly, enjoy what you do. I don't really think your programming ability matters much if you can deliever on everything else mentioned in this article.