Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ego is not your friend

I was listening to Scott Hanselman's podcast called HanselMinutes and noted a statement from the host of the show Carl Franklin, "Ego is not your friend." The context was that as a developer, your ego, if too sensitive or too large, can keep you from learning from the developer community. The ego typically prohibits you from being honest and saying, "I do not understand or know what you are talking about, please explain." This prohibition is manifested in your feeling ashamed to state that you do not know what is presently being discussed or you want to appear that you know more about the topic than you actually do.

It has been my experience that my ego, if not monitored, can cause me to view my present lack of understanding in an incorrect way. The reality is not that I lack the ability to understand the information, but rather I lack exposure to the information. From that aspect, I am now informed about what I need to learn. Moreover, if I do understand a topic better than someone else, this does not mean that my level of intelligence is greater. It simply means that I have been made aware of the topic and have taken the time to learn. Otherwise, my ego could falsely cause me to think that I am more adept than I am in reality and cause me to not consider various aspects of a topic, since I think I understand more than I do in reality.

In summary, either by causing one to think they can not improve or that they have no need to better their understanding, ego is not your friend.