Week of Humility

I have been in the technology field a long time. As in, I wrote my first computer program when I was five years old on an old Commodore 64.

I’m not going to go into a list of the things I have done in technology, mostly because I hate bragging. Plus it would be the height of hypocritical to do that in a post about humility. Let’s just summarize it as ‘extensive and almost always cutting edge.’

Commodore 64.

So anyhow, I’ve worked for myself most of my life. Having dealt with many clients, I’m used to laypeople not understanding technology. I don’t expect my non-techie people to know all this stuff, it’s not their area, that’s why they hire people like me. Comparing instead among other tech people, I’m far more critical.

It irritates me when people talk about tech areas they clearly don’t understand and portray themselves as experts.  Since I am currently working on my MBA with a tech concentration, I am having to interact with quite a few educators who are in the technology industry. Now I have to explain something that is part of my tech side, see on my technology blog that I run for my business, I’ve been criticizing the quality of technology education for years. Yes, we again get to that hypocritical part about why I would even enroll in an tech oriented graduate program. Well, I never said I wasn’t a hypocrite, just that I prefer not to be.

Moving on, I get asked in my class to write up this mock proposal of a web development concept for a mock client. Now I figure this should be a cakewalk since I’ve done tons of those for real clients and have spent the last decade of my life running a web development company. Easy peasy right? Apparently not so clear cut. I got thrown off by a few key elements that I wasn’t expecting and now have to revise my proposal.

The first problem was that apparently they wanted me to support my reasons for my technological recommendations with a comparison of other technology. Now I can live with this, and even would expect someone to include it, but it honestly didn’t occur to me to support my choices. Probably because I haven’t had to validate my reasons for choosing to do something… well in so long that I can’t remember any times that I had to. That was the first part that sort of jarred the foundation of my self-pedestal. It seems that I have spent so much time with no boss to answer to and a reputation as a unquestioned topical expert for so long… I’ve apparently become arrogant.

The second thing which caused a decent crack in the pedestal was that apparently the arrogance was so extensive that I was clueless about what the comment from the first problem even referred to. I honestly didn’t understand what was wrong with my discussion on that area, or even what the comments about adding support were referring to. In fact, so innocent of my own self-important perspective, I wrote to my course mentor asking for some help understanding the comments on my paper. You can imagine the response was fairly blunt and served to wake me from my superior slumber.

The final thing that sent the pedestal tumbling over was in one of the comments I was able to understand. In the notes, on one section in particular, the comment was so glaringly wrong about something (and it was on a point anyone with practical experience building websites would know) that I suddenly was catapulted into the realization that the PhD grading my paper was a website novice. Great, talk about a reality check.

Inexperienced authority.

I’ve heard about people having bosses that are less knowledgeable, younger, etc… but this is the first time I’ve been in that situation since I don’t have a boss and haven’t most of my life. This person has effective control over my grade and they are clueless… and it makes me feel powerless and frustrated. The last time I remember being in a situation like this was back in middle school when I discovered a faster way to solve a category of math problems but my teacher refused to let me use it because it wasn’t the way she was teaching the class. Needless to say, that was a long time ago. All this on the heels of the election. Well I seem to be past due for an arrogance detox.

Apparently this is the week for lots of humble pie.

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