2017, “Away comfort zone!”

2017 was the year I grabbed my comfort zone, shoved it towards a corner and beat the heck out of it.

I got married in late 2016, moved to a new city, and at work we started heavily expanding our engineering team and taking on much more ambitious projects. My wife and I never really had a honey moon, but we did enjoy exploring our new home when we first got here. We got two cats (Yuki and Ame) and we sadly lost Yuki to FIP (here’s a blog post about her in Arabic, by my wife).

In the past, I used to avoid using my real name and identity online, being photographed, attending public events, and I generally placed lots of hindrances on myself due to some bad experiences a long time ago. I decided to channel the energy coming from dealing with all these changes and challenges into a driving force to push myself out of my comfort zone, improve myself, and strengthen my weak points. I figured I was already going to deal with change, so why not go all the way and aim high?

I began by focusing on finding my weak points; which were mainly social ones, and putting myself in positions where I continually faced them. I was also given the chance to assume new responsibilities at work and face a lot of situations I would’ve previously tried to avoid. I’ve always had an obsession with and great appreciation for “high quality work”, I set high standards and I do my best to adhere to them; while trying to remain pragmatic of course. I’ve been applying this part of myself only to the technical part of my job and it was going pretty well. However, scaling software is one thing, and scaling teams (humans) is a different thing entirely.

I decided to put the same effort I put into my technical growth into my social and leadership skills, so I started going through lots of books, articles, and courses. I adapted the content of these resources to fit my personality and management style. The most important thing was to continuously experiment, gather feedback from peers and teammates, and act upon it. I’ve gotten to a level I never thought I’d reach, but there’s still ginormous room for improvement.

“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; 
mastering yourself is true power.”
- Lao Tzu

2017 highlights:

  • I’ve helped build a great Software Engineering team at Tam, with a lot of help from a book called Leading Snowflakes.
  • I’ve had the honor of having one of my blog posts featured by Algolia both on their Medium publication and their FAQ, and also on Ruby Weekly (I was shocked to find my name there, I’ve been a reader for a long time and never expected that. Thanks to whoever put my post there!).
  • We’ve hosted a Docker event at Tam.
  • I’ve attended technical events and conferences.
  • I grew my professional network from a handful of people to hundreds of great and talented people.
  • I participated in Hacktoberfest for the first time, by helping format the Elixir language, and I gave a presentation to inspire some of my colleagues to participate as well. I really wish I could’ve contributed with more substantial stuff though.
  • I grabbed a microphone and spoke to total strangers (I consider this my biggest achievement of the year).

All of this may be normal to a lot of people, but it’s all amazing to me because I never thought I’d be able to do these things back in 2016. None of this would have ever been possible without the continued support from my wife, my boss, and the amazing team we have at Tam.

Look forward to my next post where I’ll go into my much more ambitious goals for 2018.