To me, nothing is more disheartening than having my optimistic view of the world negated. Yes, sometimes people do irrational things on a regular basis but in the back of my mind, I always think there is a middle ground that can be achieved somehow. That hope is never lost. Or at the very least, that it won’t affect me personally. (Side note: I jest. Look it up.)

So here’s a question: What would you do if people more experienced than you were brought in to your team to work with on a project? Would you react with fear that you wouldn’t be able to keep up, or that your job was in jeopardy, or that they’d go crazy trying to implement “new-fangled” ideas like MVP? Or would you welcome the opportunity to learn and advance your craft.

What happens when they start introducing concepts that they know in their heart of hearts will make the application better but that you don’t agree with at first glance? Do you dig in your heels and violently oppose them? Or engage in a debate to come to some common understanding?

These are leading questions, obviously, and you know what my answers are to these questions. This post is more about the people, the ones that answer yes to the former questions rather than the latter above, even if they do it subconsciously.

Simply put, it’s frustrating. I’ve tried to rationalize the responses I get but the only conclusion I can come to the fits is that there are people in this world who are not only unteachable but are also steadfastly against even trying to learn. I was so sure that these people didn’t exist.

For someone who always thinks people want to do their best and always want to improve themselves and their craft, it’s depressing. Maybe I’ve just been lucky in my career that I’ve never encountered them, or maybe I’m just insulated from them because the people that I hang with, that go to or speak at user groups and conferences, are pre-inclined to the continuous learning disposition. But it’s not just in my industry. I can’t think of a single person I know well that doesn’t want to be better at what they do, whether it’s accounting, or land surveying, or nursing.

It’s not the lack of knowledge that bothers me so much as it is the close-mindedness. Listening to barely concealed sarcastic comments like “how many cool patterns can we put into this app?” Counter-arguments like “We’ve always done it this way” or “we need to be consistent with our other applications” or simply “I don’t like it.”

I can deal with disagreement. There are others on my same team that I don’t always agree with but that I respect. When we debate the merits and pitfalls of one method vs. another, it’s based on experience and rationality.

But here’s the distinction: if, at the end of these rational debates, we end up not using my method, I’m still happy with the code I’ve written. And that I’ve gained a new perspective. Being forced to go back and remove all INNER JOINs from our stored procedures because they’re “too confusing” makes me feel like I’m losing some unseen war.

And it’s one that I didn’t think even existed, let alone had to fight.

Kyle the Disenchanted