The only skill you really need

I’m a software developer by training. This has given me some amazing opportunities to create just about anything that’s digital. Knowing how to program when software is eating the world is truly a gift and I highly recommend everyone to learn at least the basics.

I have however felt for a long time that I would want to be better at not only building software but also making it more, well, I guess beautiful is the word. My aesthetic ability is far from where I want it to be.

I even think that, could I start my career over again, I should have chosen to focus much more on design and user experience. I wrote a blog post a few years ago about making it work, making it pretty and making it fast – in that order. Perhaps I should re-prioritize, making it pretty is the most important goal for a new project. The reason: if you can’t get people emotionally attached somehow to your product it doesn’t matter how many features it have, it will fail anyway.

But, after having a few beers with a wise friend two things dawned on me:

  • You can’t be good at everything. Accept it. Yes, you can learn but the more wide your skill set is, the less deep it will become as well. Obvious, yes, but worth reminding oneself of from time to time.
  • If anything, there is one meta-skill (and, yes, it is a skill – some people are better at this than others) that you really should try to be better at: getting things done. Executing. Doing stuff. Getting other people to do stuff. Making things happen. Moving the needle. If you’re good at that, you can do anything.

Accept your limitations. Focus on getting things done. That’s it.

(Follow me on Twitter.)

Update: great post. Get disciplined, not motivated.

One comment

  1. Simon Winter

    I’m an interaction designer by training, and I often feel so limited in what I can do, since the only programming available to me is copy/paste and sometimes change a few constants…

    I believe there is a bridge over to UX design for many programmers but it is important to fully leave the code building role behind when crossing the bridge.

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