Last night at the Sydney Alt.Net user group I facilitated a Coding Dojo. There’s a short summary of how it went on the site. I won’t repeat what I’ve said about it there since you can read it for yourself.
Instead I will say that I felt very privileged to be able to watch a great bunch of developers working on code in a such a supportive, open and enthusiastic manner and seeing them have a helluva lot of fun at the same time. It was an excelllent night overall and I’m so looking forward to when we run the next one!
The point of this is that it also reminded me again of why Alt.Net exists in the first place. Let me quote the ozalt.net site:
The Australian Alt.Net Community is a self-organizing, ad-hoc community of developers bound by a desire to improve ourselves, challenge assumptions, and help each other pursue excellence in the practice of software development, obviously with a strong emphasis on development using the Microsoft.NET platform.
The emphasis in bold is mine. Tackling a coding dojo and attempting to solve it using different techniques and technologies is an awesome way to improve yourself, challenge your assumptions and in group situations gives you the opportunity to help others improve as well and this was very much in evidence last night.
Ask yourself this; when was the last time you deliberately tried to improve your skills or challenged yourself and the way you do development? When did you last try to help someone pursue excellence? I’m hoping it was last night or even today, but if it wasn’t then don’t despair. Make today a day where you do just that. Where you do improve and where you do help someone else to improve.
For me, I love continual improvement. It’s the reason why I write this blog (thanks for stopping by!), why I run the Sydney Alt.Net group with James Crisp, why I started the Talking Shop Down Under podcast, why I do public speaking, why I contribute to open source and why I do consulting.
Obviously you don’t have to do what I do, but I would encourage you to seek continual improvement and to do so in a practical manner. Reading books and watching videos is great, however you do have to do something otherwise everything you learn is just academic head knowledge and you won’t understand the pitfalls and potential gotcha’s in something unless you try it, and unless you try it for yourself how will you show others how it works?
So at lunch today or on the commute home, try working on a kata with the aim of either learning a new technique or language or honing your skills. Or organise some “brown bag” lunch time tech talks with your fellow developers to show off things you’ve learned recently, or answer some questions on stack overflow or other tech forums, or write your own blog about things you’ve learned recently. Just make sure you do something because it’s in the act of doing that you truly learn things and bring about improvement and change.