The SitePoint PHP blog has a new post in the "Becoming a PHP Professional" series today from Bruno Skvorc. In this latest post he talks about the importance of other people in the process, including both learning (being mentored) and teaching (mentor).
When you work on improving your skills on your own, you'll often find yourself stuck. In fact, the experts frequently find themselves stuck more often than newbies, but it's the speed and skill with which they "unstick" themselves that makes them stand out in the cold, snowy field of identically unimpressive snowflakes.
He talks about having an "invisible friend" or another non-developer to talk to that may provide a different perspective (see rubber ducking). He covers teams and both the good and bad of being a part of them. He also looks at the mentoring/being mentored relationship and some places you can go to get more information about both in the PHP community. Finally, he looks at a tricky topic - ego in development and the inflation that can happen as your skill level grows.
Others around you – either digitally or in real life – can protect you from both inflation and deflation – a good mentor or colleague will tell you when you're steering wrong, and they'll motivate you when you're in a slump. They'll help you avoid the multi-month cooldown periods and the post-burnout lack of interest that eventually occurs.