Apprenticeship Patterns: Be the Worst

Consider yourself in the situation where you’ve joined a company, spent some time there, and learned quite a bit. You’ve climbed the craftsmanship ladder and others recognize your work as that of high quality, maybe even some of the best amongst the developers you work alongside. Your hard work has paid off and you’re a legitimately good developer. This is exactly what the pattern Be the Worst from Chapter 4 focuses on.

The problem with reaching this status is that you’re may likely find yourself at the pinnacle of growth in your work environment. Everyone turns to you for learning opportunities, and you’ve definitively established yourself as a leader in your workspace. However, you’ve found yourself unable to absorb information from your professional environment like you used to. Your rate of learning has stalled, and you’re no longer finding yourself continually developing and expanding your skillset.

The solution is something we’ve all heard before — surround yourself with those more skilled than you. Do so constantly. When you find yourself feeling like your learning has stalled, it may be time to locate another team whose skills outmatch your own (or at least, are in some kind of different field that you have lesser experience with.) Not only this, but keeping yourself in the ‘bottom-tier’ of your coworkers will “unlock” other patterns, which will help you keep yourself in the apprenticeship mindset. This is key because it ensures that, if you’re motivated, you’ll have continuous growth. Now, don’t get this pattern confused — Your goal is not to stay the worst on your team. It is to climb the rungs of the ladder until you’re an absolute coding machine, equipped with a host of skills that you’ve picked up from the time you’ve spent chasing craftsmanship. Then, once you’re at the top of the ladder, find another to climb all over again. Eventually, you’ll find yourself to be a developer skilled enough to guide others through the same process.

What action can you take to push yourself towards this goal? I may have been implying that it’s wise to up and leave every group that is slowing you down, but that’s not entirely what I meant. There’s no reason to forgo professional relationships in the search of career development if you’re happy where you work. Instead, search for elite teams across the world (via the internet) who you can be a part of. Get involved in more communities, different projects, etc. Staying in communities seeking growth will encourage you to do the same.

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