What’s your biggest career accomplishment?

2 minute read article Leadership   Technology   Wisdom   Career Comments

Not too long ago, I was asked what the biggest accomplishment has been so far in my career. It’s a great question, and one I believe people should think about.

It has nothing to do with code

It might surprise you to know that my answer had nothing to do with code, or projects I’ve worked on. The fact is, I’ve worked on so many things over my career, I’m not sure if I could pick ONE that truly stands out. I’ve written a lot of code I’ve forgotten, on projects I’ve forgotten, for clients I no longer remember with any clarity.


My biggest accomplishment is all the people I’ve helped over the years whether through the software developer community, teaching at a community college, or mentoring others at work.

For years, I talked about “Going Independent” at conferences. The sessions ranged from 45 minutes all the way up to a full day. I loved it, but what I loved even more was to hear from people who attended, and who years later tracked me down and told me how much I inspired them. I loved to hear about how they had either gone indie, or started a company with a friend, and how successful they were/are. Hearing that was, and continues to be, extrememly gratifying even though I left that life long ago.

When I taught at Lansing Community College back in the early 2000s, I loved seeing those lightbulb moments! It’s one thing to deliver a 60 minute session at a conference or meetup, it’s quite another to help students over the course of a semester as they struggle to learn new concepts and apply them. It was so cool to see a student go from not understanding something to comprehension - like I said - the lightbulb moment. That’s so satisfying!

I would also hear from an equal number who told me that after attending that “Going Indie” session that they realized it was NOT for them, and that I saved them from making a big mistake. Whether that’s true or not is another story, but I did enjoy hearing from that side, too.

I also look at the developers I’ve mentored - seeing their growth and success is such a great feeling.

So yeah, my biggest accomplishment has been all the people I’ve helped.

Final Thoughts

It’s possible I could change my answer in a year or two. I mean, who knows, maybe I’ll land an awesome gig that solves some major problem and makes life better for everyone on the planet! That would be a hell of an accomplishment!

Of course, career accomplishments pale in comparison to the accomplishment of having a successful 25+ year marriage and raising two wonderful kids to adults.

Look over your own career and ask yourself what your biggest accomplishment has been. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing this for 30 years like me, or just a month or two, either!

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