I don’t think anyone is immune to it. It’s a not so silent killer.
I suffered from it like many people do.
Its ugly name? Comfort Zone-itis.
Catch it and be doomed to phrases like “I hate that new technology X” and “Why learn language Y when I can do it in C”. For me it was, “I can’t stand C++! Why do we continue to perpetuate such an arcane language?”
The truth of the matter was I was just to scared to explore outside my comfort zone. I’ve since gotten a grip on C++ thanks to our friends at Plural Sight. Along with a number of other technologies I ignorantly feared.
If you consistently fear change you’re threatening your future. You’re threatening your family’s future. You’re running the risk of pigeonholing yourself in a dying subset that may only be required by a few companies. Worst of all, you’re making yourself obsolete. I fortunately broke out of this comfort zone quickly. However, there are people that go their entire professional lives refusing to move forward with new technologies. They pretend that if they learn something new, they will instantly forget all the stuff they have had tucked away for years.
I recently spoke with someone, I can’t specifically say where do to an NDA but they were very much against a new mobile technology. One that was not only widely adopted amongst companies but was also becoming very main stream. They made irrational arguments against using the technology even though it was pretty clear that there is a good reason it’s becoming mainstream. All I could do was say, “I haven’t had that experience with this tech”. What else could I say? They were willfully blind. Nothing you say or do will change their mind. They must be self-convinced. Don’t be this guy.
So how do you avoid this quagmire? Easy, learn a new tech each week. If you see a reference to something you’ve never seen or bothered to look up before then go check out its wiki real quick.
Shortly before writing this I saw a reference to No-SQL. Having never worked with it and having no foreseeable reason to work with it in the future, I would normally gloss over this. However, I took 5 minutes and looked at the wiki. Now I can put that technology in context in the future. I didn’t lose any street cred for doing this. I didn’t forget how to data-bind. I didn’t even get yelled at for taking 5 minutes to research something totally unrelated to my work life. Also, on top of learning what No-SQL was I also followed another link off the wiki to something called More-SQL. All very interesting stuff.
I hope that this article helps point out a fundamental bug in the life of a software engineer. Don’t become irrelevant by enabling ignorance.
Author: Anthony Russell