Will Holland is a Senior Software Engineer at ThreeWill. Will has proven to be adept at understanding a client’s needs and matching them with the appropriate solution. Recently he’s developed a passion for working with .NET, MVC, and cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365.
I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to get better. As a kid (and as an adult, who am I kidding), I always preferred the cartoons where the main characters trained to get better, the video games where you leveled up and got stronger, or the books where the protagonist started out as the underdog. Back when I played paintball, I would watch SWAT or Military training videos and then practice breaching my friend’s utility shed. Showing up at the paintball field and putting those skills to use, and seeing how the practice paid off, was one of the most rewarding experiences I had playing.
Somewhere along the way, though, I became a little complacent. I graduated college, got a great job here at ThreeWill, and became content with where I was. I started thinking with that old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. It took a little while, and having a few kids, but I finally realized what I was doing and decided it needed to stop. I had to get back to growing.
At first, I was just thinking about my professional growth. I started brushing up on newer technologies, creating little projects, and watching various Pluralsight courses. Still, I didn’t really feel like I was growing in the right areas. I was already fairly “up” in terms of code and technologies, and I didn’t want to just be better – I wanted to be more; both at work and in life. I had to take a hard look at two things: What are my personal weaknesses and what am I lacking experience doing?
Figuring out what I was lacking experience in was pretty easy – I just had to ask. From there, I started participating in sales calls, creating backlogs for new projects, and filling the “lead” or “architect” roles on new teams. One of the shortcomings I knew I had was “thinking big picture”. At heart, I’m a code monkey, and it’s always been easy for me to get caught up in my code without really thinking about what else was happening in the project. Getting those opportunities was great, as it allowed me to see the business from angles I wasn’t familiar with and forced me to not only see the whole picture, but sometimes to draw them.
Trying to figure out what my personal weaknesses were wasn’t any more difficult, but coming up with a plan on improving them was much more challenging. For me, I felt like I was too much of an introvert. I had become the sort of guy that sees an acquaintance in the store and actively tries to avoid making eye contact with them.
One of my more recent hobbies is watching people on the website Twitch. If you’re not familiar with Twitch, it’s a website full of people “streaming” themselves playing video games. Each streamer has their own chat, which makes interaction possible with viewers. I had previously created an account and thought about streaming, but ultimately shied away from it. This time, however, I decided that Twitch was the perfect way for me to put myself out there, get some practice talking to people and being social, and spend some time playing video games.
I’ve been streaming for about a month now and, to be honest, I still feel that same anxiety whenever I’m about to click the “Go Live” button…but it’s diminishing each and every time. Most streams, I’m talking to myself, which still gives me some practice at just externalizing my thoughts. I do have a small handful of people who will stop by and chat with me for a while though, and it’s such an awesome experience. Regardless of how many people watch, I still walk away from each stream feeling like I’m one step closer to being the person I want to be, and that’s what growth is all about.