Wednesday, 26 January 2011

You’re better than you think you are

Many software testers I’ve worked with, especially more junior staff, and not just to me as that’s getting easier every year, seriously underestimate themselves. One thing that’s helped me in my careers is an over developed sense that the work I produce is completely awesome. Accepting that to be true (see what I mean :p) it doesn’t mean that it’s ‘better’ than anyone else’s work.

James, Michael, Gojko, Pradeep, all do cracking work that’s impressive but some of what I’ve done matches it. It’s going to, they’re them and I’m me and we all have our own unique combination of skills, abilities and experience. That means I’ll come up with approaches and solutions that they could never think of, their own work speaks of a similar thing. Whether they have more public awareness of their work or not also doesn’t detract from how damned good my stuff is.

It’s the same for you too. You’re better than you think you are.

Everyone who has a passion for testing, is on the forums, chatting to other testers, reading or writing blogs, asking questions, going to conferences and gatherings and just ‘engaged’ intelligently and actively in the profession is as good as anyone else. By good I mean your ideas, thoughts, solutions, etc are as useful, insightful and ‘right’ as anyone else, known in the test community or not.

I want to encourage anyone in the profession who thinks their ‘ok’ at what they do to find the one thing they feel strong about. Maybe it’s writing test cases, using Exploratory testing, adding a splash of Ruby to the tools you use or some other thing you know. It doesn’t matter what- find that one thing and realise – you’re better than you think you are.

Take a deep breath, have courage and go and tell people about your one thing. Perhaps it’s a blog or forum post, maybe a 1 hour Skills Matter talk, a YouTube video or a paper/essay on your thing. People want to know and the test community is a very accepting and supportive community. They will share with you the fun and excitement of what you’re sharing with them.

It shouldn’t be a big event to speak at a conference, write a paper, present at a tester gathering. Get used to it, start now and watch how you grow as a person and a professional.

Everyone of us starts on the first step, sometimes we don’t feel too clever or have to admit we only really know our one thing. That’s fine, better to say that than try and act like a know it all. Some of my best learning and growth experiences have come about when I said ‘I don’t know’.

Too many junior testers are staying out of the limelight and you need to get in it. Sharath is a good example of someone doing generally good stuff and discovering he was better than he thought he was. Take his lead and get yourself out there, helping yourself and the test community at the same time!