5 Reasons to give up fighting for “credit for your work”.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Now this is a sensitive topic because we all want to be recognized for our contributions and most importantly it troubles us when someone takes our credit or as the internet calls it “They stole my credit”.

As a fresh software engineer, I was new to this concept and when it happened to me, I am not going to lie I was taken aback. I never understood it right, never understood the reasons behind it.

It’s no big deal, it happens to everyone so get over with it ~ said the internet

And there it was, it started off as a social experiment to understand what was going on and how to adapt in such an environment but what I found out was more valuable than getting credit for my work. So let’s kick-off.

Yes, just go with me for a bit. Credit does make us cynical, we’re always on the lookout for people who can potentially take our credit (either by previous encounters or otherwise) and also we’re so engrossed in wondering if we’ll be acknowledged for our work that we end up focusing less on the actual work.

Just because someone wouldn’t give you credit doesn’t mean you’ll not give your 100% to the task.

As soon as you stop looking for credit, you don’t care anymore if someone does take your credit or gives it to you. It makes a significant impact on clearing your mental space and you’ll be able to give more of your time and energy into what you’re actually doing instead of worrying about credit and your work will automatically speak for itself.

Another thing I noticed and it did come across a lot in my discussions with other people, is that they are worried about asking for help. They aren’t worried about looking silly/stupid but are worried about the other guy swooping in at the last moment helping them out for a trivial thing and now the other person can take all the credit they want.

Now giving up credit is the best thing here because you see if you’re not worried about someone taking credit for your work, you can ask for help more often instead of battling through the problems yourself and spending huge amounts of time trying to resolve it. It’ll save you time, energy and bring in speed. Most importantly you’ll learn more because of all the discussions you had with all the other people.

It’s not the code you write that measures the success but it’s the conversations you have to get there.

Try to recollect, when you were a kid did you really care who built which part of the sand castle? Or did you and your friends just built it and show it to your parents that we built this. Weren’t those really happy days? If another kid joined you to build the sand castle, would tell him no? I doubt it, because all these systems, concerns about credit we realize later in this world but what if you could still see it with an eye lens of a kid? Wouldn’t it all be better?

Now this issue with credit is something almost everyone faces and they all are trying to protect themselves from it. They aren’t asking for help and they are stuck on their tasks taking longer to fix things.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it certainly wasn’t built by one person alone.

Once you give up credit, you potentially open yourself up to other people for them to ask you for help. They wouldn’t feel insecure around you for asking for help since they know you won’t steal their credit.

Everyone needs some help here and there, and you would help them succeed at their work. It can be as simple as helping a junior developer push their first code to production or build a code library that can ease out someone’s effort in integrations with a system. No contribution is too small it’ll all save them time and effort.

Success is not measured in the amount of dollars you make, but the amount of lives you impact ~ Anonymous

This concept is from Adam Grant’s TED Talk on “Are you a giver or taker?” Basically, he talks about three kinds of people:

  • The givers: the ones who’re constantly helping people irrespective of the outcomes of their tasks.
  • The takers: the ones who’re always taking from the givers without giving anything back.
  • The Matchers: the ones who’re more like “I’ll do something for you and you do something for me”.

He highlights in the talk that givers are always at the ends of the spectrum of any performance metric he could track for all fields sales, engineering and medical. Below is a stat he shows:

From Adam Grant’s TED Talk

You’ve come this far and I don’t want to leave you guys without some places where you can actually start. It’s simple, the first step would be to help people and the second step would be to not expect anything in return. Yes! it’s that straight forward.

Start off small by helping people, it can be for the smallest reasons. Consulting on their tasks, building some code libraries for others to use. Write up a report that can help the right people (if you’re a developer, write up some code that can generate those reports), automate stuff for them and so on.

When they do give you credit or show gratitude, just smile and reply “It was all you, I barely did anything”.

  • Help them rise up.
  • Help them feel more confident.
  • Help them help someone else.

I’ll be writing another part of this in the coming week that’ll talk about what I found that was much more valuable than “credit for my work” in two years of my practice, so stay tuned.

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A Tech Enthusiast, develops software at Amazon, made a computer print “Hello World” once; didn’t leave software since. Such an obedient fella that computer 🖥️