Direct Approach vs. Philosophy Culture

When I was in high school, I joined a forum for philosophers. I was an observer, just monitoring the active users discussing different points of view on the same general principle, or cosmic factor. Later on, I started reading different books on personal skills, psychology and communication.

The Esoteric Book

The most amazing thing I found was a book. Actually two books – same title, same table of contents. One written by a US writer, the other – from an Indian philosopher.

The difference between both books was unbelievable. The US one was completely “how to” with homework assignments after each chapter. The latter one was full of stories. Nothing certain, no rules, no guidelines – just stories.

And yet, they conveyed the same idea. But the first one was focused on a single approach, while the other one was more vague, up for interpretations.

The Flash Mentor

I had several mentors over the years, one of them was a Flash consultant. He was coaching me on freelancing, management, communication and other skills since he was in his eight years of freelance and remote working when we met.

Since I was enrolled in a private university here, he was also a student there. A memorable moment of one of our discussions was the fact that all of the students in their course were freelancers and consultants with years of practical background, and all they wanted to understand is the theoretical part of what they do on a daily basis. Figures.

My First Conference

My first technical conference was during my first year as a junior developer. I was still fresh and didn’t know too much about the technical stack.

It was a high-end .NET conference, for professional engineers and team leaders. While there were a few code-related talks (the ones that I was excited about), the majority of the talks didn’t make any sense to me. Not because they were too hard, but they were too vague. There were stories, case studies and other elements that weren’t practical at my job, weren’t applicable and there was no framework that I could have learned that would be used in my day job.

Skills vs. Mindset

Many years later I came to the realization that, during the learning process, people need different things. General “inspirational” talks are often of no use to juniors and people who are just starting. On the other hand, seniors are often bored by “yet another framework” or technology, and they’re no longer in the game of learning more skills or technologies, but rather figuring out how to optimize the process, how to accelerate their workflow, or how to apply what they already have the way that influential leaders use it.

I tend to see the same pattern now. People who have started a year or two ago are passionate about new technologies, code snippets and frameworks that they can use as developers. Seniors and team leaders would like to see the bigger picture, and pass it through their own perspective and environment in order to improve it. It’s the direct, “how to do this” approach compared to the “let’s review one of the paths in your future”.

Is there a right or wrong way to present your vision? Not really. But it’s a great skill to be able to extract a use case out of a general principle, or extrapolate a single example into a larger process.

Your thoughts?