10 Minute Vim!

Superiority Fatigue

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Learning new tools, technologies, and methodologies is hard. Counter-intuitively, the most exhausting part is after you’ve gained a good comprehension of the tool, and now, filled with excitement, you try to explain it to someone else.

They almost always react with hostility.

What is going on? You just took time to learn this exciting tool that could save everyone a lot of time, and not only do they not care, but they resent you for it! Don’t they see how this could be great for everyone?

The issue, like humans, is complex and dynamic. Maybe they feel like you’ve now made them look lazy in comparison. Maybe they have tried other tools in the past only to discover they weren’t as a good as promised. Maybe they are afraid they won’t be able to learn the new tool as quickly as they need to, and will be left behind. Maybe they are afraid all the time they spent learning the existing tools will have been wasted. Maybe they are comfortable where they are, and don’t care about increased productivity. Maybe they are tired of learning new things.

Most times I have seen this, I think the root emotion is fear. Fear of failure, of change, of being embarrassed, of looking inferior. Fear is a powerful emotion.

When you respond with further hostility, this only will compound their fear. Should they put their comfort and ego before the needs of the business? No, but your counterattack will only further prove to them that their fear was deserved.

The final hardest part of learning a new tool is when you are forced to use an inferior tool. Suddenly that liberating fresh air of power is replaced with a suffocating claustrophobia of weakness. Even if the tool isn’t really that inferior, it now feels terrible. It becomes worse when you and many others around you agree with the better value proposition of a new tool, and yet you are still required to use the inferior tool due to someone in power blocking you for political reasons.

For the developer who sets out to learn new things, you must learn to deal with inferior tools. Once you start learning, you will always find yourself in a situation where you are required to use an inferior tool. For me, this has been one of the hardest things to face in my career.


software developer, manager, author, speaker