Purpose: What I Learned from Stepping Down as Team Lead Twice


I know developers feel doubts of choosing the IC role over a manager or vice versa. I'll tell about my own road how to find own purpose doing things I like.


Hello, thank you for coming. My name is Alex Ptahin, and I'm a software engineer at PrestaTech. Today I will talk about purpose and what I learned from stepping down as team lead twice. A few words about me. Half of the experience engineer, half of the experience team leader. Sometimes I ask myself what am I now after this experience. Let's go to the beginning. We have different roads to take. Mine started in childhood many years ago with C, C++ and PHP for web development. Why was it so interesting? Because it was a play. Why do children play? It's fun. When I grew up, I lost this fun because now I'm an adult. I should be severe and considerate, serious and respectable man. Also we are on a fast changing world and although high man psyche has a large margin of safety, it isn't elementary to do long term things without fun. Less fun, less learning. Less fun, less happiness. I started to think, does my work make me fun? What things I need to remove, change or add? What can lead me to do things without fun? And I used to be driving by long term goals. I want to be the CTO in five years. A competition this goal can be as good as very bad. Reaching the big goal was very exhausting and I had no idea if it will be better. Finally, will it make me happier? All is the things I wanted. Or did I want only some part of being the CTO picture? Long term goals can play a cruel joke on us. Let's try short term directions. Consider them as experiments and adaptation. No focus now of achieving requirements. We can change the direction if we understand things going the wrong way. My directions will grow. Pre-senior engineer experience and with some knowledge going to team lead position and then engineer position and then team lead position again. Then engineering stuff also. Current my direction more defined but it can change again and again. So how we can help us to get any direction? Let's help people get what is your direction now. Want to test more architecture and design things? Say about it. Want to try to be the team leader? Say about it. Want to mentor a junior? Start doing it and say about it. And what should we ask ourselves in this case? It is considered more understanding of purpose but it is another philosophical word. What is it? Oxford dictionary gives us a couple of definitions but interesting for us it is the last one. It is meaning that is important and valuable to us. But what is essential? Some things I knew from my experience. Some not. I see this experience as a picture of Bruce Canyon in Utah. So other people can say wow it's amazing but I see here is mistakes and here and here and this is also mine and I almost forgot about this. This very subjective picture of mistakes didn't help me understand what was good and what was bad. I didn't know how to improve my advantages and how to improve other things. So advice for younger me to write down things. How are they going with wins and mistakes? No pressure, no blame. It goes hand by hand with consciousness world and soon we will get a big set of different things like this, how did they connect to it, not sure the easy way. But maybe it's not the big case for us and we can focus only a few of them. Fun, purpose, consciousness. Everything else can be derived from highlighted items in proportion we need to. We can also find many materials about studying different motivations. I will reference only one to try. So drive, some surprising truths about what motivates us by Daniel Pink and keywords here are autonomy, mastery and purpose. Finally I have three things to summarize. Use fun filter as much as you can. Unique directions and experiments, not long-term goals. Mistakes are part of the learning, can be good addition to write them down. And it was on my way, this road and it will be only your unique way. The purpose is our own way of fun experiments. No one can apply it to you, only experiments again, fun and learning. Thank you for your attention, slides will be on the QR code and your questions are welcome.
8 min
09 Mar, 2023

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