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Why doesn't the gopher archetype also apply to development roles? Persistence pays off if you measure your own results. Knowing how to divide a problem is really important, even if you're great at algorithms.

While persistence is good, it has to be applied correctly. It can become the opposite problem as stubbornness, spending too much time in a small thing that is not actually that relevant because the person really wants to get it done.

More important than persistence IMHO is to know when to be persistent and when not, and those two qualities by OP seem to be quite related to it: "raw algorithmic skill" (to know whether something is optimizable or not) and willingness to say “I don’t know” when you don’t know" (seek help, get the right person for the job, etc).

Edit: I know because I was like that in the beginning; it was okay to learn e.g. micro optimizations when learning programming for fun at university, but it'd have been a big issue if I had not been able to correct it.

I can’t overemphatize how much persistence really paid off in past jobs I had. Coworkers that had persistence were such a delight to work with because they didnt give up the first time they got stuck. They did the nitty gritty work of tailing/grepping logs, using a debugger, endless Googling, print statements, and anything to find out the root cause of a bug... or even to understand a legacy codebase.

It's probably such a delight in part because bright kids are frequently not persistent. They are used to things coming easily. If it doesn't come easily, many are quick to throw in the towel.

Someone who is both bright and persistent can move mountains. But it often has a big social downside. People don't like change. Being bright, persistent and also socially savvy enough to sidestep drama is practically a unicorn.

I've done that sort of work. Eventually you realize that nobody notices the guy who tracked down and killed that vexatious heisenbug in the legacy code base. You need to be working on the new, shiny, high-visibility projects or your career is going to stagnate.

Or change the culture.

Friday demo day (to sales and cust success and everyone else): "hey everyone, know that thing customer X keep complaining about that we've never been able to solve? It's been super tricky. Just wanted to announce that James here figured it out and it's fixed forever. James you're a hero."

Guess what you need strongly depends on what you are hiring for.

Being good at alghorithms only is great if you work in a very isolated area.

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