Accepting That You’re Just Not Good At Something

While employed for over 4 years on different contract positions as a Software Quality Assurance Engineer, I became very familiar with a variety of programming languages (not HTML or CSS which are markup languages, I’m referring to ASP, PHP, JAVA, XML, and a few others). Some of these languages I actually became so involved with that I ended a few projects as a novice programmer in whatever language I needed to focus on as required.

The test plan and test scripts that are now usually created by the programmer used to be the sole responsibility of the software tester(s) that the project was assigned to. This required the tester to become familiar with the application in a way that not even the programmer did, by coming up with every possible test scenario and environment to test against while also learning the language in order to be able to quickly identify and correct simple errors that didn’t require programmer intervention.

While a great way to learn about the software development lifecycle and gain a lot of “behind the scenes” information, I feel this experience actually left me with a minor fault. Whenever a programming project used to come up, I would incorrectly feel that I could save the company money by handling it myself because of my past. While I’m extremely proficient in HTML, CSS, and ASP, I had no business trying to re-learn programming at the expense of my company each time a project beyond a simple e-commerce site would present itself.

It takes me at least twice as long as it would for a real full-time programmer to do it, so how much am I saving by doing it myself? Nothing. Plus an expert programmer will make the application more flexible and scalable through their advanced knowledge, something that can’t be learned with a part-time effort. I excel at marketing and running e-commerce websites, not programming them. One day I finally came to the realization that no matter what my previous job experiences were, I just wasn’t a programmer. My heart wasn’t in it.

Focus on what your good at, and leave the rest up to the experts. There’s no way you can be good at everything, and delegating responsibility is one of the most important parts of owning a business. If you know enough to hire the right people and know who’s good and who’s not, it’s a big advantage for your business. Just don’t make the mistake like I did of thinking that you can be an expert at several different things at the same time.

Have you ever had to accept the fact that you just weren’t good at something?


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