I worked in a cafe that was a family-run business. The owner’s mother would tell us, the employees, how to mop the floor. It wasn’t the most efficient way to do it, but she insisted this particular set of steps was THE way to clean the floor. My coworkers would roll their eyes and do it the way they thought was right, but I didn’t. I used the “special” method even though I disagreed that it was the best way.
By that time, I’d worked in hospitality for several years and developed the ability to figure out when you were better off just doing what your employers and coworkers wanted instead of pushing your agenda. I cleaned the floors and made the coffee their way, and they loved me for it. We had a great relationship, and in return, I got to do things like leave early on Friday night and get assigned all the easy jobs on the days I turned up severely hungover.
Suppose you move from being the smartest person in the room at school to one of the smartest people in the room at university to one of the smartest people in the room at your tech job. In that case, you might fall into the trap of obsessively pushing to always choose the most brilliant, efficient way of doing things (your way). Despite how that might make the people you work with feel.
When you are a server in a catering company, literally no one cares that you can do a binary search or that you know how to code at all. How fast can you break down a cardboard box? Do you have the charm and tact to resolve a situation with an unsatisfied guest? How well can you take direction, give direction and generally collaborate with your fellow servers and supervisors?
I cherish all that time I spent grinding in hospitality before I got a cushy developer job because it taught me about compromise. How to assess other people’s needs and how important those needs are, and how to ascertain when being flexible will bring more rewards than being right. I’m not trying to be some sort of Steve Jobs-esque visionary. I just want to make a good quality product, make my team happy and have a good time.