An answer to a question I am asked occasionally

Every once in a while I get an email from someone who thinks I know what I am talking about, and they want to know how I got where I did. I am flattered that they want my advice, but I fear that I could never be that helpful. That is usually where I start. I suggest that they should diversify. They should make it a point to read widely, and ask many people for advice. Really, I don’t think that I have much of anything that is original to say. Which isn’t to say that I am a sham, it’s just that when I tell people what I do to get better they exclaim, “that’s what all the books say”. They say that because all the books are right, they all have the same basic process, what matters is putting in the work.I usually have the same answer, and it doesn’t matter if its about programming, or blogging its usually the same answer. Truthfully, I don’t have a process. I do have a general understanding of how I get better, and how I got to this point, but not like a set of rules. The first step in the process is to love what you are doing. It’s okay if you aren’t good, at least in the beginning. What matters is that you love what you do. Loving what you do isn’t important because it’s fun. It’s because it’s tough. It’s tough to get better at something. I have never understood people that seemingly get better at things they don’t like. That is the real super power in this world. So, I stick to what I love to do, and that way even when I am not having that fun, I find a way to work through it. The second step is to work. Work hard, and often. Also don’t just sit down and work, work to get better at working. Getting better is the working with a deliberate purpose to get better, not just repeating the same thing over, and over again. Finally, repeat steps one and two ad infinitum. Seriously, I can’t over state this part enough. Just keep going. Now, there is a third step, but it’s not as important, and I think you are already on your way. Every once in a while you need to stick your head out of the room where you have been working, and look to see if there is someplace you can apply your new found knowledge. Sometimes people come to you, but often you will need to hustle your own gigs. Don’t depend on anyone to come knocking down your door.

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