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Raffael Eloi
Raffael Eloi

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How the ego hinders growth in your software engineering career

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In the fast-paced world of software engineering there is always a great amount of work to do, backlogs to implement, new products to be developed, bugs to fix and refactors to be made. And when we sum this up with the velocity that the technologies grow and evolve today, we can see that this area is not only about skill but mindset.

To deal with this amount of responsibilities, it’s crucial that we continue to learn and be open to new ways to do things, read and observe how the others are doing and always try to search ways to optimize our work and reduce our cognitive load.

I think that is in this point that the most people fail, I’m not saying that if you do not do that you will not be successful or something like that, but what I’ll try to show you is that while we have a strict and not flexible mindset it can be really probably that you’re not using all the potential and capacity that your mind can have.

“I only use this technology because it is the best”

Usually in this area we have a lot of discussion and repercussion about what is the best technology and tool to use, and we be only strict to a single tool or language we lose some opportunities to learn something new and have a better and experienced opinion for when and which scenario is the best for each tool or technology.

All the time when I worked with someone that is really specialist in some tool, language or area I can see a lot of things from a different perspective, and I came to the conclusion to myself that we tend to not like the things that we don’t know.
Despite my preferences in terms of language and tools, it would be really prepotent to affirm that these are the best options available in the market if I haven’t tried a lot of options that exist today.

Give yourself a chance to learn something that you don’t like or think you don’t like and take your own conclusion. It will be a win-win situation because if you try and really do not like it you now have a real experience with that and can really argue with a better pov the reasons you don’t like it, but otherwise if you like it, that’s the magic, you won against your pride and can be humble enough to admit that in this area exist great tools to be used.

“I will not accept the opinion/suggestion of someone with a lower position”

Sometimes we are really attached to the title of our position in our jobs and we tend to think that we are our position instead of we are occupying the position that we have and it can change overnight.

The first question that I observe people do when they get together with a group of people from the same area is “what is your position in the company?”. I don’t particularly like this question, because it tends to imply that the level of credibility of your opinions will be characterized by the answer of this question.

Once I saw a video of Celest Headlee in a TED presentation in youtube (10 ways to have a better conversation | TED) which tells that everyone knows something we don’t.
In this video in the same way that we can learn a lot talking to the people and knowing their histories we can learn from everyone from whatever level of seniority.
Every senior started as an intern or junior.

“My way of doing things is the only right way”

Today we have many videos, books and courses talking about different ways of doing things, which methodology to use and why we should use it. But the truth is that none of this is a universal truth and each company carries out the process according to its own scenario.

The problem in my opinion is when we have the opportunity to try something different that can generate more value and we don’t do it because of the status quo “we always did like that” or because of our ego “I cannot go back in my opinion because I already said that the other way of doing is better”. In either case the result is a lose-lose or a stagnant performance.

One presentation that really opened my mind about it was the Simon Brown The lost art of software design that talked about Up Front Design and how we can create models and diagrams that facilitate the way we see our product and abstraction we’re building. In this video it is good to know that in addition to having a broad opinion about certain terms, you can still be flexible and have an open mind to the possibility of creating a middle ground.

“If I ask for help I will be seen as a bad professional”

If you are truly immersed in the world of ego, simple things that boost us and our careers can be seen as a threat and prevent you from achieving better prospects.

The phrase “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” fits very well here, if your ego is not regulated everything can seem like a threat, and for me the best thing we can do for ourselves is to be in the position of an apprentice.

Don't be afraid to ask for help and accept your own ignorance, we can only improve the things we are not good at, so if you have nothing to improve, perhaps your view of yourself is a little distorted.

“I will not listen to this opinion because I do not agree with it”

This one is really interesting, because I struggle with this regularly, sometimes i think about it “why should I see this video if I do not agree with this topic” and when I accept that the video can teach me something I don’t know and I watch the video I always gain something, I either reinforce what I really don’t agree with or I learn something new.

One of the great personal examples I can give is the practice of TDD. I never thought about using this methodology because it didn't make sense to me, but today I can't see myself without it and it's perhaps the best thing I've learned.


In this post I tried to talk about my experience and my feelings regarding my career. All opinions have a very partial and personal point of view, but also contain references to videos, presentations and also books I have read.

Despite being labeled as a software engineering topic, this topic can be applied to any area of your life and career (if you agree, of course).

By transcending ego and embracing a growth mindset, we unlock our full potential in all aspects of life and career.



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