Friday, 22 November 2013

Are you serious about achieving mastery? Find your mentor!

Few months ago, I read a book that significantly helped me in reflecting about my career and aspirations as a Software Engineer. It helped me in taking a very important decision that, I am sure, will have a great impact in my future.

The book is called Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman and in this post, I am going to tell you my decision and the reasons behind it.

The book offer advices and solutions to dilemmas that software engineers typically have. The goal is helping them in increasing their expertise and becoming masters in what they do.

The book celebrates the importance of Software Craftsmanship as one of the best way to really learn the skills and the practical abilities required to design and develop high-quality tested software.
"Having knowledge is not the same as having the skill and practical ability to apply that knowledge to create software applications. This is where craftsmanship comes in."
There is one advice in particular that emerge constantly:
"If you are serious about achieving mastery, be tenacious about finding mentors to guide you."
These words made me deeply reflect.

I am an avid self-learner and definitely serious about achieving mastery. I read a lot of books written by experts in their fields that in an indirect way are like mentors for me. At the same time, at work, I am surrounded by very smart and talented people that are always willing to help and share their knowledge with me. I attend events and I am a founder of a community that helps me to network with passionate and energetic individuals.

This is awesome and it is great but I realized that I needed something more.

I really needed to find a mentor outside work, a person who I respect, with many years of experience and a strong reputation in the field, a professional that can follow me in my learning process and coach me in the right directions to become a great software engineer.
"The goal is to find ways to expose yourself to the daily working habits of other skilled people, and observe the ways in which they gradually refine those habits into even greater skill"
The main question was: Who to choose?

The answer to me was almost immediate: Matteo Baglini.

Matteo Baglini is a very senior software developer and architect with a lot of experience in building software in various different domains from business, web, mobile applications to embedded softwares. He is freelancer, a consultant, a technical writer, a speaker and founder of DotNetToscana and Coders TUG.

I have to say that Matteo is the most disciplined, the most pragmatic and the best programmer I ever met. I met him during my last year at the university and he already had a lot of impact on me at the time when we founded DotNetToscana and he surely represent what I want to become in the future. In addition, he is also a very good friend of mine.

So, in August, I sent a mail to him explaining my reflections and my intention to have him as my official technical mentor. 

Luckily, he was in a stage in his career when he wanted to invest more time in technical coaching activities so he accepted with enthusiasm and pride.

We started officially in October after my wedding and since then we had a meeting every week.

I have to say that the experience so far is incredible and I have all the intentions to share on my blog the results of this experience and the big lessons I am learning.

The ultimate goal is to being able to build cathedrals and Matteo can help me in achieving this :)
"Digging deep into a technology is that you can actually explain what’s going on beneath the surface of the systems you work on. This understanding will distinguish you from other who can’t describe the software they've helped build in a meaningful way because all they understand is one little portion. Once you’re part of a team, it’s the application of this pattern that separates out those who are making random piles of rubble (the Pragmatic Programmers called this “programming by coincidence” while Steve McConnell calls it “cargo cult software engineering”) from those who are building cathedrals."
If you are interested in the technical coaching services offered by Matteo, get in contact with him using his web site: Make It Simple.

This experience will be profound and useful for me and I am really excited about it.

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