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Skill as a Function of Interest

pulljosh profile image Josh Pullen Originally published at Updated on ・1 min read

I've long grappled with the idea that some people are inherently better or worse at certain skills than others. Some people believe it, but it feels wrong. I want to believe that everyone is equal, but that doesn't seem to be true. For example, I had a much easier time picking up programming than any sort of social or musical talent. For others, the experience has been the opposite.

Lately, I've come to a different conclusion. I wasn't born a programmer any more than I was, for example, a musician. The key difference was that I continued to write code enthusiastically even when I wasn't any good. Even the simplest progress was exciting for me, which wasn't true of other skills. That excitement fueled me to continue practicing programming even when it was hard.

I believe that skill is a direct function of practice, and engaged practice is a direct function of interest. If, in an alternate universe, I had spent 5,000 hours practicing music (like I have with programming), I would probably be pretty good. But I can't practice that much because I don't have the interest to sustain it.

In a way, this is the most beautiful insight of all. The only challenges you can't overcome are the ones you don't want to overcome. I take comfort in that.


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Nick Shoup

Agreed. I like to think that I am no better than others really when it comes to the development of code. I have just spent a lot of time doing so. I 'member early on in my career feeling really down about my progress on a project. Fortunately, a senior dev new exactly what was going on in my head and pulled me aside over a cup of coffee. He said "You can do the same exact level of work I do with the same level of skill. It's just going to take you roughly the same amount of time to get there."

I have always tried to express the same level of patience when working with someone of lesser experience. That is all in most cases that it boils down to. Experience.

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Stephen E. Chiang

There's a perfect Bruce Lee quote, which also happens to be by favorite:

"The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus."

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Nathan Englert

I love this quote from Henry Ford, which relates pretty well here:

"Whether you think you can or think you can't -- you're right."

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Eugene Karataev

Wow, 497 projects in Scrath 🤯 That's impressive!

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Josh Pullen Author

Yeah. 😜 It took a while to get my bearings, but making projects was always too fun to stop!