Being a Generalist Makes Me Happy

What motivates you to work and create? If you were to ask me a year ago, I would have said that my motivation lies in the pride of making polished and elegant products. That’s still true for me today, but I realize that I had forgotten an important source of motivation and happiness: learning new ways to think about programming and solving problems.

This was, in fact, what had led me to become a developer. Growing up, the sense of joy and accomplishment I felt as I wrapped mind around concepts like recursion or object-oriented programming was good enough to be a drug. Coupled with my attention to detail and proclivity to idealism, I found myself focusing intensely on learning a particular language and set of frameworks that I found most elegant.

Eventually, I found myself well-versed in the idioms and practices of the language. This was the goal, after all. I wanted to master the tools I had chosen with a deep, technical understanding and a solid grasp of their design philosophies.

However, it turned out that the journey was more satisfying than the destination. I found that, over time, programming became less thrilling and intrinsically motivating. This was because, by effectively living in a monoculture, I had inadvertently isolated myself from exploring new idioms and ideas from other languages and environments. I was accidentally limiting my ability to discover and learn.

I’m proud that, at Atomic Object, we are generalists. By using many different technologies, and picking up new ones regularly, we keep the passion for development alive because we never stop learning. And the cross-pollination of ideas from the variety of tools we use inevitably leads to the improvement of not only ourselves as developers, but our craft as a whole.