Embrace Quantity

I was recently forwarded this article over at Fast Company, which expressed the admittedly obvious, but still easily abandoned wisdom that programming-231x300the best way to get better at anything is to do it as much as possible.

“To put it into startup terms, you’re making yourself maximally iterative. To put it into hardware, the idea is to get as many cycles as possible. To put it into workout terms, the idea is to get as many reps as possible. Try fast, fail fast, learn fast.”

In some ways, this is thrilling! I can fail fast! In fact, I’d bet I can fail faster than most people! I basically fail every day, all day long, day-in, day-out!

In other ways, it’s a huge downer. Because, y’know, it requires effort. And I’m human. If you cut me, do I not bleed? If you get me home too late to eat a real dinner, do I not just eat half a can of Pringles and some peanut butter instead?

But I am an optimist, and I want to test this theory on my programming skills. I’ve always wanted to build an app, and my job gives me the opportunity to work around great designers and developers every day, so it shouldn’t be that huge a leap.

So every day for the next 12 months, I will post something I’ve learned about programming, using Lift to keep the train on the tracks, much like Karen X. Cheng.  If that means I can eventually code like girl can dance,  then the energy will be well worth it.

“People who watch me dance today sometimes assume I’ve been dancing for many years. I made this video so you could see the awkward body that started just one year ago.

Here’s my secret: I practiced everywhere. At bus stops. In line at the grocery store. At work — Using the mouse with my right hand and practicing drills with my left hand. You don’t have to train hardcore for years to become a dancer. But you must be willing to practice and you better be hungry.

This isn’t a story about dancing, though. It’s about having a dream and not knowing how to get there — but starting anyway. Maybe you’re a musician dreaming of writing an original song. You’re an entrepreneur dying to start your first venture. You’re an athlete but you just haven’t left the chair yet.

When you watch someone perform, you’re seeing them at the top of their game. When they score the winning point or sell their company for millions — you’re seeing them in their moment of glory. What you don’t see is the thousands of hours of preparation. You don’t see the self doubt, the lost sleep, the lonely nights spent working. You don’t see the moment they started. The moment they were just like you, wondering how they could ever be good.”