You’re brilliant? Stay humble!

In France there’s a humorist who was really brilliant. He used to make everyone laugh while treating hot topics like religion, racism and such other hard-to-joke-with things. He was really smart. The way he was dealing with those near the edge themes was really impressive. This is really hard nowadays to be able to joke about those topics and he was doing it really well while condemning them and raising awareness.

But one day, for any reason, he crossed the line.

Everyone taught it was shocking on purpose; he was so smart that people taught he was only showing how much hate could be harmful! But he wasn’t… This feeling people had, thinking he was playing a role, only last a few months. Everyone understood that he was not that brilliant guy anymore.

He’s now banned from any TV show and many cities don’t even allow his to stand up in their theaters anymore.

But why am I speaking about that guy?

Well, it might be excessive but this story might be quite similar to things we experience in software development: Brilliant people don’t always deliver the right message.

I’m sure everyone knows someone brilliant. It might be your colleague, the one that writes code so fast and that knows everything. You know, the one that understands complex concepts faster than anyone and for whom everything seems so easy! Look around you, you see her/him, right? ;-)

It might also be someone you heard about. A book author or someone who invented something really powerful you use everyday at work or even someone who created a programming language on his own! Yes I’m speaking about all those brilliant few. The ones you almost don’t dare to speak to because you don’t want to ask stupid question and feel like an idiot!

Those brilliant people are so good at what they’re doing that if they state something than it might be the right thing to do!

But wait, what if it was not? What if those messages they were delivering were only good for people like them? Meaning they only apply to a few of us.

They are influencers. And being in that position, they ought to act accordingly. They must understand that delivering the wrong message could hurt a lot of people that don’t have the experience to argue against them. They will believe them, blindly.

When you have natural capabilities to understand quickly complex things or resolve difficult problems, do not feel like this is the case for everyone around you: it’s not.

A really well known brilliant guy did recently an anti Agile/Scrum talks that resonated with a lot of people. Because of who he is and because of what he has accomplished so far, he was considered as the messiah for many developers. But a majority of people who loved his talk forgot one important thing: this might be ok for him, but not for them!

This guy has obvious natural capabilities coupled with a lot of experience. But he forgot one important thing: brilliant people are also humble. Brilliant people are able to adapt their talk to the average level of the crowd. Brilliant people will teach others how to grow and improve themselves. Instead of thinking that because this is how they do this should also be everyone’s way; brilliant people know that things that might work for someone might not work for his neighbor; things often depend on the context.

The most important of all: Brilliant people do deliver the right message.

Eminent scientist, reputed programmer or even you, the one in the open space for whom everything is easy; if you want to be brilliant then try to be humble. Stop thinking that everyone is as smart as you are but do strive to help people around you become better.

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