Being average at everything and good at nothing

Not Another One!

i can breathe

When I was at university I was introduced to the best minds in the area and I had the privilege of working with a few. I noticed that, on average, each one was really great on a specific area or skill. There were “the Specialists”, amazing at a specific field like algorithms, web stack, data mining, databases. There were “the Linguistics”, outstanding at a specific programming language like Javascript, C, PHP, Ruby. And then there were “the MacGyvers”, that just seemed to solve any problem, no matter the field, language or complexity. I find it reassuring to work with these people since they provided the guidance I sometimes require.

But I don’t consider I fit any of these profiles.

When people say I’m intelligent I thank but doubt they ever got to know any of these geniuses. I think what they really want to say is that I’m “emotionally intelligent”… but that’s an awkward thing to say in a conversation. In my view, that’s not really a skill, that’s just being human. However, for technological companies, being a human is becoming a skill.

We know that the demand for software engineers and programmers is high and growing. Curiously, it’s also increasing the number of times I hear recruiters comment about the candidates:

He’s not the best programmer we ever saw. He’s actually an average coder that talks and behaves like a human. He’s someone we can have a conversation and take to a business meeting without feeling embaressed. And that’s why we hired him: unicorns are precious.

There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just a matter of …

Point of view

I find myself commenting my work with others and saying things like “Well it’s not perfect and it wasn’t that hard” usually followed by a “Probably you could have done it in half the time”. A friend that I deeply respect and admire once told me, reasonably fed up with all this modesty bullsh*t:

You’re too modest, stop it! It doesn’t serve you in any way. Yes, I could have done it too, but differently and probably not as good as you did. You did great, so stop being unfair with your work. André Lourenço

Life proved me he was right. Not long ago I had to delegate a task to an intern with more work/coding experience than I. The outcome was not as good and not as easy for him than it was for me when I performed that exact same task as an intern.

neo whoa gif
When I discovered I could do things easily and properly, things that others could not.

Suddently I realized I wasn’t so redudant as I though. A weak self-esteem always mined my behaviour. But now, step-by-step, win-after-win, I’m becoming confident and independent.


Maybe you’re really good at something; or maybe you’re average at everything. You just need to find the right environment for your skills and personality.

You won’t succeed by trying to play other people’s game. Discover the intersection of your strengths and interests. Then double down on that intersection and make sure that whatever position you hold is aligned with those strengths and interests. Quora

My profile is great for startups and small companies, that is organizations that require a horizontal span of skills. Companies organized as silos of capabilities won’t take full advantage of me, unless they use as the oil between all those departments.

Not Another One!

Basically, a company can either hire the best person for programming, another for design, another for technical writing, another for marketing, another for human resources, another for ideation and entrepreneurship — or just hire the all-in-1 person 😀