For most of us, as programmers, we are a pretty lucky bunch. We get paid handsomely (or at least nicely) for doing something which we enjoy, will never go out of fashion and provides a great deal of benefit to the companies we do it for, if not the world at large. While we may not be working in the IT fields we want to be working in or for the companies we want to be working for, we still get to enjoy the process of writing code on a daily basis for a living.

Programmers that love to program can get this positive feedback effect where pursuing our own interests by writing great code, solving difficult problems and completing tasks or projects leads to an increase in our productivity for our clients or employers. In turn this increases our value to them and if you are lucky, is reciprocated back in some way.

The game is afoot

Sites like Stack Overflow incorporate gamification so you can build up reputation points and earn awards as a record of your status within the site in order to keep the users engaged and coming back. While nobody is handing out points at work, you can do the same thing by building up your reputation as someone who is knowledgeable and able to get things done.
Now obviously, everyone wants to get involved with a new project, its like a newborn that has been untainted by horrific decisions, bad design and sloppy coding. However, from over 15 years experience, when something unexpected goes wrong, usually they are just waiting for someone to pick the ball up and run with it. That is the opportunity to step in and find out what you are made of.

Work hard enough and you’ll hit that sweet spot where you become the go-to guy for certain topics. Sometimes the problems can be difficult, but treat these things as a puzzle, as a challenge to be met just like an athlete rises to the challenge of that additional mile or extra weight.

Do it well enough and people will notice, do it long enough and you’ll get a reputation.