Learning to Code: Fun, Frustrating, Fruitful



I’ve attempted the plunge into the coding world for years now. I’d get my feet wet in something like Javascript, Python, or Ruby, but then throw it to the wayside in favor of higher priority projects. In retrospect, learning to code was a lower priority for me because I didn’t have anything I actually wanted to build to give coding a sense of purpose. Well, no longer is that the case. With a project in mind, and a seemingly limitless amount of free resources on the Internet, I felt it was time to get serious with learning to code. Thus far, my overall experience seems to be progressing from fun to frustrating to fruitful.



In my opinion, learning a new language is incredibly fun. Codecademy is a blast. It feels good to write your first function that can process logic and spit out the answer you were looking for. Telling all of your tech-savvy friends that you’re learning to code to make [insert cool idea here] is very gratifying as well. My first few weeks learning code was a blast, and I really enjoyed it.
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On saying ‘No’ to great ideas

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

– Steve Jobs

Prior to the Digital Age, we had much less competing for our attention. There was no Facebook, mail took time to arrive at its destination, and conversations were limited to land-line telephones and face-to-face communication.

The world is quite different today. I’ve written extensively on the need to simplify and escape the treadmill of blog posts, tweets, status updates and web content that can drown us in information overload, but it wasn’t until I heard Lot18’s President and Co-founder, Philip James, refer to Steve Job’s quote above that I truly understood why it’s so hard for us to simplify in the Digital Age:

There are too many amazing ideas out there.

Let’s say you’re interested in entrepreneurship, and you’ve just discovered an inspiring TechCrunch article on starting your own company, which you promptly read. But wait! Through this article, you discover four links to more information about entrepreneurship from credible, respected sources. These could take you hours to pour through – each containing dozens of hyperlinks pointing to other articles and essays – but it would seem crazy to ignore all of these relevant, well-written articles. So you add them to your reading list. Day-by-day, this reading list grows until you start to feel overwhelmed. Before you know it, analysis paralysis begins and your initial enthusiasm for entrepreneurship begins to dwindle. This is the process many of us go through when we encounter too much information in too short a time period.

The same process occurs when we set goals. Like many of the readers of this blog who are interested in personal development, I’ve read books on personal finance, networking, physical fitness, nutrition, entrepreneurship, and more. Through these books, I’ve accumulated a list of goals that would take 10 lifetimes to accomplish. It’s simply too much. The problem is each and every one of these goals could easily be seen as important for my future success and happiness; they’re all incredibly worthwhile goals.

How do we handle such situations? How do we stay laser-focused?

Allow me to refer back to the quote at the top of this post: The definition of ‘focus’ in today’s world is about finding what matters more than anything in the world and saying no to the hundred other great ideas right in front of you.

Do you have five ambitious, worthwhile goals for the next few months? Pick one and excel at it like no one believed you ever could.

Do you have 20 blogs you read every week? Trim it to three.

Do you want to lose fat, build muscle, and run a marathon all in one year? Slow down there tiger; trying to do all of those at once will likely ensure you do a terrible job at all three.

Do you want to travel the world for five years after you graduate AND start a family before you’re 25? Both are great goals to set, but they’re simply not compatible; you must choose one.

I think you’re starting to get the idea. Saying no to great ideas takes discipline, and it will hurt at first. But the reality is that too many great ideas can be just as dangerous as none.

You have a choice to make.

Today’s world has so many great ideas and opportunities readily available, it feels almost silly to cut yourself off from them. But you must. Do it for the sake of your health and happiness; trying to do too many things at once is quite stressful. Additionally, do it for your future success; it’s better to be the best in the world at one thing, rather than mediocre at five things.

The question still remains: what do you have the courage to say ‘no’ to?

Evaluating Gladwell’s Outliers: Is Success Beyond Our Control?

“Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.”
—Malcolm Gladwell

This is a quote taken from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, in which he gives case study after case study to demonstrate how very successful people arrive at that level. His conclusion is that individual merit alone is not what allows someone to be successful. Rather, a whole host of factors—including random luck, fortunate upbringing, and cultural legacy—all interplay with individual merit and hard work, propelling some people towards success and viciously holding others back. After reading through this book, I have to admit, he’s absolutely right.

The way you were brought up can have a gripping effect on how you perceive the world. And many people cannot break out of that perception. On top of this, the way things work for anything one might wish to participate in can be unfair to those who weren’t given a special advantage early in life. Gladwell explains: Continue Reading…