2 min read
A new guy joined our team at work last week. In his old job, he used a programming language called Python. At our work, we use a language called R. There’s a pretty big difference between the two.
I talked to this guy yesterday. He was pretty flustered by the steep learning curve of R. I told him not to stress too much because fortunately our managers give us quite a bit of flexibility and allow us to learn on the job.
I’m sure this guy will pick it up over time, not because he has a PhD (although he does) and not because he was born to be a programmer, but because each day he’ll learn just a little more. And each week he’ll become incrementally better. And as the months pass, R will begin to feel more natural.
Don’t get me wrong, he’ll eat a lot of dirt along the way. It will suck at times. His code will produce errors. It will be frustrating and annoying. But he’ll get there. I know this to be true because I took the same path over the past 11 months. Early on, I knew very little about R. Now, after having worked with it every day for nearly a year, I’m light years ahead of where I started.
And that brings up a simple philosophy I have regarding “growth” that I have developed over the past couple years. It applies not just to my day job, but to my life in
1. Anything new sucks at first.
2. Nobody cares if I suck. My failures will mostly be ignored or go unnoticed.
3. If I’m willing to eat a lot of dirt (rack up failures), I’ll learn and grow at breakneck speed.
The first point is obvious. If you’ve never done something before, you’ll suck at first. That’s just a fact. Recognizing this fact helps you get past the early failures.
The second point is less obvious. The truth is, nobody is tracking your failures. Most people don’t care. In fact, most people aren’t even aware of your failures. Once you realize this, you can see that you’re the only person who can use your failures as excuses to stop trying.
The third point is the most important. Eating dirt comes with the territory when you’re trying to learn and grow at breakneck speed. If you can learn to be okay with it, you’ll advance faster than everyone around you.
My advice? Don’t even view failures as bad. View them as inevitable. You will rack up a list of them. But the more you learn to let them slide off you like water off a duck’s back, the faster you will grow. And growth naturally leads to more skills, more knowledge, higher income, and more opportunities.
Anyone who accomplishes anything worthwhile has to eat dirt not with a spoon, but with a shovel. So grab your shovel and get moving.
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