I used to believe that, as programmers, our professional worth is directly tied to the code we produce and the technical knowledge we are equipped with. It kind of makes sense. Similar to how proprietary software vendors draw their worth from their existing software, formats and protocols, fighting tooth and nail to keep it hidden away.
Nowadays I have a different definition for professional worth. It’s no longer derived from the code I have produced, nor the experience of problems solved. Remove it all and my worth will stand unaffected.
To understand how this works, just look at typical work assignments. As a programmer you are often asked, almost on a daily basis, to create things you have never done before or solve problems you didn’t even know about. Integrate with this new API, optimize that database query, implement a ranking system — we are used to the unknown and so we accept the challenge and fire up Google to meet it head on.
Give it a few years and most of us will assume an interesting mindset where really nothing is impossible. It’s just bits and bytes in different needs of rearrangement.
This attitude is a very powerful one and we should all take care not to succumb to fear of the unknown and comfort of the familiar, or we risk losing it. You don’t want to be a COBOL programmer this side of the millennium shift or its equivalent in the future.
Realize your professional worth and let’s continue to be fearless and awesome.