Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Just like in any other field, 90% of workers do trivial routine things and only less than 10% actually do the most difficult things. Most programmers in the industry are average, and so am I.

There are lots of smarties/geeks who have been coding/programming since age 10-12. Obviously they have more experience than me -- I started learning software development/programming at age 20, when I first went to university.

I realize that to match their level, I would have to spend all my time for years, just solving problems, making my brains work hard and get used to a developer's mindset.

With many other things to do in life, I understand that I will most likely be constantly behind geeks - I can't solve TopCoder/Google CodeJam problems, I'm bad with algorithms etc. I should have studied programming since childhood to match the level of other geeks. In other words, I feel guilty, stupid and most of all envious and scared of geeks!

No super brainy geek knows everything about programming but: there are guys who are simply 10x better than me. I feel compelled to study all the time, but I can't and don't want to. I'm sure many developers have had this feeling - when you envy someone much smarter than you.

How do you deal with this feeling?

I'm really confused, I keep thinking they can steal my job, and I can't even compete with them.

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by psr, JeffO, Robert Harvey, Dynamic, MichaelT May 10 '13 at 0:50

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Your question would be better and might get more attention if your title reflected the question you are asking. –  Bryan Oakley May 9 '13 at 23:19
thanks, bryan, what title do you suggest? –  ERJAN May 10 '13 at 0:09
You asking about stuff like this already gets you in better half of programmers (by skill). Just in case i misunderstood you, you have to study and practice, but definitely not ALL the time. –  GrizzLy May 10 '13 at 8:03
Those competitions are quite low-level, typical modern programming job is more about handling higher-level complexity (integration of different systems). –  Den May 10 '13 at 16:48
Starting at 20 is earlier than me :P Anyway, it's not really about raw time spent at all but taking those painful steps outside of your comfort zone. People who started programming at 12 and sticked to it were very likely to expand their comfort zone all the time rather than writing getters and setters for 8 years. Otherwise the 8 years meant nothing - "1 year's experience 8 times". –  Esailija May 10 '13 at 22:49

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It’s possible that somebody is indeed 10x better than you in finding algorithms, but algorithms are a small part of most programming jobs.

It’s very unlikely that somebody is 10x better than you in every aspect of your job.

  • Some people are great at gathering user requirements
  • Some people are great at solving complex problems
  • Some people are great at diligently solving lots of routine problems
  • Some people are great at starting to code from a blank page
  • Some people are great at automating complex build systems
  • Some people are great at writing tests
  • Some people are great at adding the final polish to a project
  • Some people are great at debugging

Most projects need all of these skills, and nobody I know is truly great at all of them. Figure out what you’re good at first, and sign up for such roles. Next, figure out what skills are particularly good complements to the ones you already have, and work at those. Finally, try to work beyond your comfort zone from time to time.

share|improve this answer

Do not be discouraged nor afraid. You are not alone. The sun will rise again tomorrow. - your friend who cares about you.

share|improve this answer

you shouldn't be afraid because the are jobs for everyone, we are living in a fast growing world that require new resources daily, maybe the alpha geeks would take the high end job that require unnatural abilities to write super algorithms, but such jobs are very limited and also such geeks, and the real market is made of people how are average and can deliver.

also i think you have a health fear that could evolve into a bad one, i mean it is good to feel that there are people and the you need to keep your skills in shape to compete, this will help you develop new skills, but make sure not to stop trying because that is when you really stop gaining.

share|improve this answer

Adding to microtherion's answer, I can think of other aspects too that are just as useful to a business:

  • Ability to come up with creative new ideas
  • Ability to foster a great working environment
  • Ability to get along with more difficult members of the team
  • Ability to talk to the business and understand their needs
  • Ability to translate business requirements/needs to the dev team
  • Ability to drive a team and/or drive a project
  • Ability to project manage
  • Ability to design a good UI
  • Ability to code a good UI (HTML/CSS/Javascript)
  • Ability to do data modelling
  • Ability to design a good database model

For example, I'm pretty good at coding, debugging, data modelling and team morale. I'm pretty bad at algorithms, business requirements and project management.

It might take a while before you find what you could be good at - maybe ask a particularly insightful person that you know, they might be able to tell you what you haven't even realised yourself.

BTW don't let the arrogant super coder geeks get the better of you - if they turn their nose up at you because you don't understand the latest thing, remind them that not everyone is good at everything. They probably won't listen though :)

share|improve this answer
"not everyone is good at everything. They probably won't listen though :)" - this is so true –  ERJAN May 10 '13 at 2:18

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.