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Getting Trapped as an Expert Beginner

mrlarson2007 profile image Michael Larson ・1 min read

I really enjoyed reading this article:

The big take away from this article is how important it is to stay humble to prevent getting stuck as an expert beginner. I do think it's important to take pride in your work and have confidence. Also many are dealing with imposter syndrome. On the other hand there are many on the other extrem that have such a big ego they can never be wrong or listen to others. If we want to grow as developers it's important to stay humble and be willing to listen to good ideas regardless of where they come from.

This reminds me of this Bible proverb:

Pride is before a crash, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
Proverbs 16:18

So remember stay humble, keep listening and learning. Best way to keep growing! Do you have any examples where humility helped you learn or grow? What do you think of the points made in the article above?


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gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

That article is great Michael - a really great read. Thank you for drawing it to my attention.

I think one of the key takeaways is that it doesn't matter at all how long you've been doing this work, how much you're getting paid, how much you've been promoted, or how epic your job title is. The industry is geared towards isolating people from their failures and their ignorance - we should make sure that we're aware of our limitations (but always pushing them further).

What is an 'expert beginner'? It's the inverse of impostor syndrome. An expert beginner is an impostor who doesn't know it - the Dunning-Kruger effect made flesh that kept getting promoted.

peter profile image
Peter Kim Frank

cc Erik (@daedtech ) the author of the linked article :)

daedtech profile image
Erik Dietrich

Thanks for the shout-out :)

mrlarson2007 profile image
Michael Larson Author

Looking forward to reading more of your articles!

mrlarson2007 profile image
Michael Larson Author

Thanks I didn't know he was on!

flrnd profile image
Florian Rand

I think it's a personal trait, there are people Who like to learn and teach and even being top skilled in what they do, they're humble. And then we have the opposite, arrogant with little to no self-awareness at all. And this is common not only between developers. I've met Creative directors Who believed that other's Ideas were their own.

A really good read! Thanks!!

ghost profile image

Pride is also a waste of resources, put an extra effort and burden the carrier and waste others effort and brain power. Even puts a wall around your actual prowess. You end up hidding the good work and forcing you to fill the bad one with a lovely mix of: excuses, blame and anger. All you need to get rid of the unnecessary weight is just let it go. You'll feel better, free to make mistakes (hopefully not too many either), get more productive and those around will thank the change.

haamida profile image

Totally on point article, for me the most humbling moment was when I made a huge conceptual mistake and a serie of wrong choices plus some pride that my solution is the ultimate and only way in addition to a team that dosen't question my decisions strongly enough.
A two hours long meeting and deep review by the Techlead was enough to show me how limited my knowledge is and how much of a stuck up I was on wrongly sticking by my mistakes (it was pretty tough to admit that I screwed up).
It took me an extra week of work to reverse the damage and create a clean version of the software (technical debt free).
I am thankful to that experience for teaching on the importance of taking no pride on ones choices and keeping an open ear to others opinions

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Patrick Tingen

A former colleague taught me a lot on this subject; whenever he needed help, he kindly asked whether I could help him out. But often, the question seemed to trivial that I thought that he was not as good as I thought he was, because, come on, such a simple question!

But all the times, it turned out that he had tried to find the answer himself and that it wasn't as trivial as it seemed. We often spent quite some time figuring out a good solution. Since then I always assume that whoever asks me for my assistance, has indeed thought it over and knows what he or she is talking about. And that the solution is probably not what first comes to mind, because - since they're smart - they would have come up with that themselves without my help.

conw_y profile image

This is great advice.

I found myself sometimes thinking "I don't need to know 'x' to do my job properly", when actually 'x' turned out to be an important thing to know.

After taking in this advice, when I get the same thought again, I hesitate before telling myself I don't need to know it. Maybe I do need to know it!

There are, of course, many things we don't need to know, and no one could never have enough time to learn them all. So I guess the onus is on each one of us to use our best judgement and carefully prioritise learning, so that we can focus on learning the most valuable, useful things.

theodesp profile image
Theofanis Despoudis

For me, engaging with the community is the best way to learn and escape the expert beginner state. You need to be humble and know your weaknesses

mrlarson2007 profile image
Michael Larson Author

Yes you don't want to get stuck in an echo chamber at work. I also appreciate colleagues that are willing to at least try new things to improve.

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Michael Maitoza

I also enjoyed the article. As an advanced beginner (i think???), I can see the temptation to go down the wrong path and become an expert beginner. I'm an introvert with a lack of self-esteem and I could easily fall into this trap if I gave up my humility. I'm glad that I do not have a "know it all" kind of attitude and that I see myself as someone who needs to continually grow in the area of development. Thanks, Michael for sharing this article.

mrlarson2007 profile image
Michael Larson Author

@daedtech just answered some reader questions, one related to the article above!