David Dickson personal blog about

Unhealthy attachment

One thing I notice with junior programmers is that they often get unnecessarily attached to their work. I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t take pride in your work. There is no doubt that pride in ones work is fundamental for any professional. But more I try to instill in junior developers that programming is a path of continual learning and the sooner you can let go and enjoy this process of learning, the quicker you will grow.

Unhealthy attachment to their code can result in negative behaviors. For example, an introverted perfectionist may beat himself or herself up when you try to point out potential improvements in their work. An overly strong personality may get defensive over their choices and ultimately block external input. There is no doubt that insecurity at work in any profession can result in negative reactions, so the problem isn’t limited to programming. However, the reason I think it is so important for programmers to transcend their insecurities is because the reality is you will be learning your entire career.

When I was junior developer I had the fortunate situation of having an excellent senior engineer help me take steps to lose my insecurities. As we would pair program he would highlight the simple fact that as programmers we simply “write some code and then delete some code.” This simple reduction of our work for some reason resonated with me. Further having someone who I looked up to professionally validate my skills did wonders for my confidence.