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The three pillars of a developer's mind

Published on March 11, 2016 - 3 min.

Photo by Mike Kenneally

If I had to imagine the worst way I could do my job, I would describe it as sitting behind a desk, spewing out lines after lines of code. Clock in at 9, clock out at 5, and wait for the next day to come. I guess that’s one way to do it, and thousands of devs out there manage to live like that. But that’s definitely not my vision. As a developer (and especially in a field as alive as web development), I believe you need to have certain “qualities” or pre-requisites in order to do this job. Or at least do it well.

One might think that these pre-requisites lie in the “functional” aspect of the human mind. Being good at math might be a good one for starters. That means that you are able to work with rules, and apply them. Speaking english fluently might be another one. It helps reading documentation or comments, understand tutorials… And of course, being a “techie” is a must, even though most of the time this trait does not serve you the way you might think it should. How often do you hear “So you’re a web guy? Hey could you help me with my printer?”

These of course can help. But I believe the main things that make a good developer lies more in the most inner workings of someone. And these could be summed-up by three traits that beautifully work together.

One of these pre-requisites for me is the love for well-made craftsmanship. Being a developer is much like being a woodworker (another of my interests). Your code editor is you hammer. I guess this is why you so often hear developers call themselves “artisans”. Behind this new cliché lies of course a trendy trademark, but I believe in the deeper meaning of the word: that is someone who loves his work, and has the passion for beautiful and well-made artifacts. Or in this case, code. You constantly need to know how to use your tools, how to master techniques, and how to acquire new ones.

This need to learn and apply techniques often leads to another quality: being creative. You may not know how to do something, but your mind can always find a way. Wether by exploring unknown paths, or finding a hidden one, there’s always more than one answer to a problem. Being creative helps you find solutions, and is often fuelled by the third quality that I believe is essential to any web developer: curiosity.

It is thanks to curiosity that, as a child, everyone learns the basics things of life. What’s good, what’s bad. What hurts, what brings joy. Curiosity leads us to meeting new people, confront ideas, and exchange opinions. It is the cornerstone of social interaction, and the best way to develop your mind. It is important to constantly have an open ear, not only to critiques but also to new things that might grasp your interest.

If it’s your passion, you’ll have the tendency to overlook some of these so-called qualities, as they’re simply inner parts of the way you are. If, however, you’re the shy kind of person, my advice to you would be to try to interact more. Only good things can come out of a simple “hello”. You might encounter some obtuse minds or course, but there’s always something to keep from each and every human being you’ll talk with. What’s even more interesting, is that I believe these three angular points are connected. They depend on each other, forming some kind of a chained loop. They come in a certain order, yet you definitely can feel that they influence each other, and are interconnected.

At the end of the day, these traits combined create an interesting and beautiful flow. Curiosity is the spark that triggers Creativity which sublimes itself thanks to good Craftsmanship. It is thanks to these three pillars of the human mind that you’ll be able to enhance and sharpen your skills, and in the end produce more beautiful and efficient code.