These past weeks, I’ve been able to talk in greater depth with several expert testers from our global community. Whenever I have this type of opportunity, I always try to decipher what it is that makes people like them so exceptionally good at what they do. Actually, I get asked that particular question constantly. I even attempted to answer it through my Kristel’s Answers video series, where I try to tackle some of the most recurrent questions I receive. To be honest, I could give many positive adjectives to describe the attributes of a great tester, such as: detail-oriented, curious, compassionate, creative, teachable, perspective, etc. Don’t get me wrong, every great tester has these qualities, but these qualities can also apply to a variety of other successful professionals, be it a salesperson, cashier, dentist, firefighter or a teacher.

So what else is there besides our personalities that make us, testers, really great? Well, I think it’s Love, pure and simple. You just find something in life that makes your heart beat faster, makes you feel like you can conquer the world and be better every day. It’s something that helps you stick through the toughest days even when it feels like everything else is going wrong and nothing you do matters.

Throughout our lives, we experience many kinds of love, some more or less passionately, some  short-lived and others lifelong. One day, you might find someone or something – some type of inner drive in your life that makes you feel like you are on top of the world . It makes you feel that there’s nothing you cannot do! It makes you wake up every morning, feeling excited and positive to start off the day. Love is something you don’t give up on easily, it makes you want to overcome and withstand any obstacle in your way.

I can’t exactly explain love in words, but once you experience it, you know exactly what it is. It’s not just infatuation or some sort of game, it’s the real deal. Even though money is a powerful motivator, leveraging that love will help you stay focused and achieve your full potential. 

When I started out in software testing, I was just trying to understand what it was really about and what I could achieve in the industry. My first job as a tester was in a cool agile team that developed websites. My responsibility was to find issues and simply report them to the team. I was executing commands rather than trying to think about the bigger picture or how I could really bring value as a software tester. Discovering issues was easy and so I just uncovered them without really thinking about the customers or what actually mattered to them.

After that, I moved on to a bigger company in Estonia where I was a dedicated testing resource for a single project. I went through an onboarding process with an industry veteran who talked to me about different aspects of the project, the team, the customer. This was the first time that the door to the testing world really started opening up for me. It was also the year, when James Bach, an industry thought leader gave an open lecture on software testing in my university.

By the time I graduated college, I knew that I wanted to move away from Estonia to experience something new. I also knew that I would continue to pursue a career in testing, because I really liked the responsibilities and opportunities that came with it.

When I moved to London, I continued to build my career and that’s when I began actively reaching out to industry thought leaders, going to meetups and conferences, as well as reading a lot (if you still haven’t read ‘Lessons Learned in Software Testing’, then do it now). And I did all of those things out of my personal time and it wasn’t just because a book or someone told me to do so, no. It was because I really cared about becoming better at what I was doing and wanted to provide more and more value to my team. I just had a deep passion and love for the industry, and wished to be the best I could be as a tester. I constantly went above and beyond, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to reach my goals and be a contributing member to my team. I sought out advice and listened carefully to industry professionals. I was never afraid to experiment and try out new things – even if it meant I was going to fail.  

My love for testing isn’t something that I developed overnight – it took time and patience. Honing my skills wasn’t really a straightforward process as I didn’t always know the direction I wanted to take. But in the end it was all worth it – because the only way to truly achieve greatness is to do things with love and passion. There’s no point in searching a single source of truth, because there is no such thing in life. You have to develop your own journey and pour your heart into it to make it work.