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proverbs re. confidence

by mkmcconn (Chaplain)
on Jan 06, 2001 at 11:46 UTC ( #50229=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

The topic came up in chat this morning, thanks to Petruchio, that I think is worth discussing. His side would balance what I offer below as advice to job-seekers.

  • Confidence is over-rated as a virtue
  • Confidence without competance is impudence.
  • Knowledge is confidence that you can share.
  • An employer or employee that doesn't know this, cannot help you in the long-run and is not worth your investment.
  • Therefore, whether seeking or sifting for a job-match, value competa ence far and away: and, though this leads to humility, it will not be to your detriment.
Or, to put this more in the terminology of a programmer:
  CONFIDENCE can be a character, or a pointer.

  If it is a pointer value, it points to something
  (not itself). 

  If a pointer to nothing, then the CONFIDENCE variable 
  does not reference any object (i.e. a pointer to 

  Such a NULL pointer can then become useful for 
  discerning an error; for processes return 
  pointers to nothing,if they failed in some way. 

  Therefore, the return value can be tested for NULL.


  • ybiC I think managers are wising up, and learning what to look for.
  • Albannach++ on catching my spelling error. Is there a market for competent pedants, these days?
  • A powerful answer, even though a dark onePetruchio. I hope that managers lurking here will read it repentantly.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: proverbs re. confidence
by Petruchio (Vicar) on Jan 07, 2001 at 09:50 UTC
    Your attitude does you credit, mkmcconn. The problem, I think, is that you're looking at this as a programmer, though it's not a programming problem.

    The measure of a programmer is his ability to write good programs. But we're talking about job-seeking... and the measure of a job-seeker is his ability to get good jobs. There is no fundamental relationship between these activities (though for most of us there is a circumstantial relationship), and they are, in fact, quite different... not least because job-seeking is an essentially competitive activity, while programming isn't.

    So in your estimation, given your experience with the world, tell me: does competence actually trump confidence, purely in terms of getting the best job? I'd be surprised if you said yes. It'd be as much as saying that there was a whole class of people in business who looked beneath the surface, who understood what was important and could recognize it. Brighten my day... say it's true.

    My suggestion was not that confidence makes you a better programmer; it was that confidence is very useful in seeking jobs. Since people respond positively to confidence, and seeking jobs is principly about influencing people, it's a pretty good guess that confidence can be very helpful in job seeking. Companies need Brian Kernighans, but given the choice, I'll bet they hire P. T. Barnums.

    Now the danger exists that I may be taken for suggesting something crass: that anyone, especially a programmer, should regard themselves purely as a job-seeker. To bring up context again, I'd point out that we're human beings before we're job seekers, and I'd suggest that the measure of a human being is his moral bearing. The ideal job seeker would not be hindered by the desire to deal with his potential employers honestly, or to exchange value for payment. I hold people who approximate this ideal in contempt.

    But there's no reason for honest, competent people to sell themselves short, either. I see nothing wrong with, for instance, applying for jobs even though you don't have all the listed qualifications... assuming you represent yourself honestly. Let them know what you know, and what you don't know, and then let them decide whether you'd be helpful to them. As ESR (amongst other people) realized about Linux, even really good things need sold. If you're talented and determined, but not yet competent, people may still want to hire you. I see no reason to worry, as the questioner did last night, about finding some credential to prove your worth. Spend your time worrying about becoming a better programmer.

      I don't mean to intrude upon your excellent post here, but I picture the following :

      I'm a programmer looking for a job.

      That makes me a jobseeker, so at that point my intent is seeking a job, not programming.

      I'm hungry, so I decide to bake an egg.

      My intent is to bake an egg, so at that point I'm a cook?

      No, since what you probably like to do is programming, that's what your intent is. You're not looking for a JOB, your looking for a PROGRAMMING JOB.

      Maybe I'm weird, my life is not built around a single thing, my interests go out to nearly everything which makes me blind to the detailed parts of nothing.

      "Let's not include text here.."

        Ignore this if you're not interested in totally biased egocentric crap!

        Ok, my general Idea of 'making the best of it' :

        The one thing I'd like to know is how the brain works. I've read many books speculating on the amount of synapses per second a brain can calculate, what the brain does and how the pulses are sent.
        This is NOT what I mean by 'how the brain works'.. I don't mean the 'hardware' part, I mean the 'software' part.
        The meaning of life is undefined, unknown Some people claim they know what life is about or why people exist, but they're stating what they think. Not what is true. I'm not claiming to know it, nor am I saying that I'm happy with this ignorance. I want to know, but I'm afraid it's impossible to know.

        Because I've admitted to myself that I do not know why I exist, I've decided to make the best of it. Since the brain sends out pulses, some of which make my feel 'happy', which is another undefined word and another reason I loathe our current form of communication.

        Many of our views and ideas are formed because of prior experiences; Indoctrinated beliefs, thins you learned at school, taught by your parents, read in books, heard from others.
        How was this done? With a form of language. Language is subject to being unclear. Language can be interpreted in too many ways to be a correct way of stating a definition. What I'm saying is that humanity, in it's entirety, is always wrong. Not in their mind, per se, but in their expressions. Which is why I like Ovid's meta-morality story, especially the fact he doesn't pretend to use words that mean something. Words are always empty and can only spark a meaning close to the one you intended with the other party.

        Back to being 'happy'. I like being 'happy', again, I don't know how to define happy, or even 'like', because they're subjective terms. I just know I 'like' being 'happy'. It's a positive feeling. Positive feelings...stimulate me. So 'making the best of it' is like 'acquiring as much positive feelings' as I can.

        It's not entirely egocentric, because sometimes someone else or a positive feeling of someone else gives me a positive feeling. This is called social interaction, and is just another way to get a 'positive feeling.' I still haven't been able to figure out why I crave for 'positive feelings' , or why others seem to do the same, but it must be part of how the brain works. Money seems to help getting 'positive feelings' in many ways I cannot even begin to explain. (I think I'll write a book sometime.) That's why acquiring money gives a 'positive feeling', because it is a means to get more of them.

        Refer to the first phrase of this text if you think this stinks :). It's incomplete , but I'm out of time.

        OH, one more thing..It's just been downvoted ; I know it's off-topic. It doesn't belong here, but the chatterbox character limit made me do it, really!

Re: proverbs re. confidence (perfect world, hot job market)
by ybiC (Prior) on Jan 06, 2001 at 19:28 UTC
    1. Confidence is over-rated as a virtue
    2. Confidence without competance is impudence.
    3. Knowledge is confidence that you can share.
    4. An employer or employee that doesn't know this, cannot help you in the long-run and is not worth your investment.
    5. Therefore, whether seeking or sifting for a job-match, value competance far and away: and, though this leads to humility, it will not be to your detrement.
    I agree on the first 3 points, particularly for technical positions.   If your boss is consciously aware of the difference between confidence and comptetance, it makes life a lot better.   In my experience, those managers have been the minority.   8^(   Of course, YMMV.
        striving for Perl Adept
        (it's pronounced "why-bick")
Re: proverbs re. confidence
by Albannach (Monsignor) on Jan 06, 2001 at 23:43 UTC
    I generally agree with your list, but I'd like to suggest that a balance of competence and confidence is best. In my experience, one need a certain amount of confidence in order to learn effectively and quickly, and in the working world if you can't do that, all the competence in the world won't help. As to the boss, I think whether or not they understand the difference is not as important as how they assess the results.

    Also on the topic of competence, this thread reminds me of an old Shoe comic (anyone remember that one about crusty old birds that ran a newpaper in a tree?). On bird types in his editorial something like "There is nothing I am more proud of than my competance", then another bird reaches in to the text bubble, scratches out the "a" and writes an "e".

    I don't mean to be pedantic, I just am ;-).

    I'd like to be able to assign to an luser

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