Success Is Not Automatic

Success does not often happen overnight.  It is usually the result of a lot of work behind the scenes that not very many people see.

Success

First, let’s discuss my inspiration for this post, then we will explore how to set yourself up for success.

An Example with Testing

The inspiration for this blog post comes from a Simple Programmer blog post about automated testing.  This post talks about a manual tester who lost his/her job and could not find another one.  Unfortunately, all the jobs for which they applied required programming experience.

The previous manual testing position did not require any software development.  As a result, when the unexpected happened, they were not prepared.

This is unfortunate but happens all the time.  Think about people who are afraid of losing their jobs to automation or technological advancements (currently, vehicle drivers, any non-renewable energy to renewable energy sources, or others).

Do you think the most successful people saw trends in the market and decided to just let what happens to happen?

Of course not!  They prepared for it.

Keeping Up with Changes

Like it or not, the world changes at a rapid pace.  Especially so in the software development industry.

Change

I see so many places that still develop with some issues…

  • No use of version control system
  • Do not take advantage of automated testing
  • Lack of continuous integration tools to enforce testing of new changes

In this day, some of those issues almost seem unbelievable.  No version control?  Seriously?  What happens if you lose that code?  Nevertheless, it happens.

Perhaps automated testing and continuous integration are more forgivable… and yet, they are important.

The flip-side of keeping up with changes is being too distracted to focus on something.  For example, if you tried to keep up with every Javascript framework, more likely than not you wouldn’t be very good at any of them.

So there is something to be said for keeping focus and not potentially getting distracted for something that is not business essential.

That being said, when tools have been around for a while, there’s a decent chance they can really impact your business in a positive way.

For example, if your business does not use CI but a competing business does, who is likely going to be able to deliver faster with more quality?  Well, the company that uses the newer tools to help with faster deliveries with higher quality.

There’s a trade-off: focusing on newer tools vs. other business objectives.  Ignoring changes in the market for too long a period opens you up to competitors being able to outperform.  Sometimes that will hurt the business, while others it may not matter.

But enough with business… let’s go back to the personal level.

Don’t Fall Behind

Slow

You need to at least somewhat familiar with what is going on in your career field.  If automation could potentially replace you, perhaps you need to become familiar with the automation technology.

The time to prepare for potential market changes is NOT when the change occurs.  By that time, it is too late.  (That being said, if you are too late, the next best time to start is NOW.)

The successful are working and preparing for weeks, months, or even years before their success shows up to multiple people.

Think a successful online celebrity popped up overnight?  While it’s possible, it is more likely that they were working on skills and videos for months or years beforehand.

That automation framework that makes everyone 2-3 times faster than before?  It didn’t just happen over a day.  Designing that infrastructure probably took weeks or months.

A successful day trader that earns more trading online every day than you do at your full-time job?  They probably have several failure stories of losing a good bit of money while they were learning.  They also probably do a whole lot of research (either in analyzing specific markets or in determining what market trends in graphs mean).  If they are continuously successful, they have some strategy that they are following; they aren’t just getting lucky (which you would be if you successfully made a few good trades without all that research).

We acknowledge this to some level – we understand that doctors, for example, must train for years to be able to work at a hospital and earn the “big bucks”.

However, we often don’t acknowledge the level of effort required for any other skill.  There is a lot of preparation that goes into these success stories.

Conclusion

Success doesn’t just ‘happen.’

First, you have to define what it is.  Sure, maybe it means making more money… but what does “more money” mean?  Does it mean being able to watch TV all day?  Does it mean taking more vacations?  You may find that “success” doesn’t necessarily mean more money.

Next, you must determine what it takes to get there.  Success doesn’t just happen.  You must determine the steps and work at it.  That being said, a smart approach might be to make some of those steps automatic (through habits, software, or hiring something out).  But it still requires effort.

Don’t let life ‘happen’ to you.  Determine where you want to be and take steps to get there.  Having a successful life is not automatic.

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