I was originally going to call this post “Extreme Ownership”, but I’ve never read that book. So I had better not make that reference. What I would like to mention may be related to that book. From what I’ve been told, that book teaches that one should own everything that they touch. If I may apply that to myself, I take full responsibility and initiative to make things better with the projects that I work on.
I got a new job roughly two years ago. As new jobs go, it took a little while for me to get used to the codebase. Because I was getting used to a new codebase, I wasn’t that effective. It was about six months until I was starting to get effective. There was still more that was holding me back from unleashing what I could fully do.
At my previous job, I would complete about 10 JIRA points a sprint. But at my new job, the minimum requirement was to complete 5 points a sprint. Agile points are completely relative numbers, so I’ll just say that I halved the amount of work that I could be doing. It isn’t that much.
Due to trying to understand my current team’s culture, I didn’t really think that I could do more than 5 points a sprint. But the more I reached into the backlog, I realized that it doesn’t really matter if I show what I am working on even if it isn’t an original committment. As long as I was doing work and helping the team progress, everything was fine.
The front-end codebase that I was working with didn’t help to be productive either. I had to go through so many steps to just get the application started. As well, previous developers didn’t really know how to work with Angular. To give them credit, neither did I know how to work with Angular when I first started.
So, what did I do to be more productive? I committed to going back to my actual work capacity. I committed to revamping the Angular codebase, and I programmed a way to setup the frontend in just one command and not several steps. I repossessed the front-end automation testing framework, because that project needs someone to work on it and to help out bottlenecked QA.
What has this done for me? My wife commentted that I seem happier at the end of the day. Let me preface by saying I don’t think I was mad or sad. Mostly just neutral. But now that I was invested in the progress of what is mine to improve, I am happier at the end of the day. I have a long list of to-dos that I would like to see me do with my current project.
With that, I think I’ve also learned something else. It is kind of normal for programmers to stay at jobs briefly. I think I see one reason why that could be the case. Programmers like to seek mental challenges. Getting a new job is an easy challenge because they get to see a new codebase and get adjusted to it. Programmers don’t have to think about ways to improve things. But if a programmer can create new challenges for themselves in their job, then they are more likely to stay and see the challenge through. And it is a challenge that the programmer can control.
In the end, I realized that I am able to control my career, and by controlling my career I can see my happiness grow. I do get satisfaction knowing that I did a good job. I hope that I can still apply this to my current job and any future jobs!