I’m currently enrolled in a six month full stack web development immersive program. There are days where I feel totally lost and like I have no idea what I’m doing. Other days I feel like I’m really making progress and things are starting to click. As you can imagine we do tons of drills and exercises every day. Sometimes if I’m not careful it’s easy to make the goal to just complete and submit the assignments without giving them the appropriate amount of thought an effort. This type of work is not very productive. The sheer repetition does hold some value, but there is most certainly a better way.
Imagine for a moment that you want to learn any skill. Take a second to think of a random skill you would like to learn… Okay, I decided to pick the keyboard, because that is actually something that I want to learn. Let’s say I take the approach that I’m just going to pick some songs that I like and peck at the keys until I can start to put the melody together. I can probably start to put a few chords together before too long and get the basic tune of the song figured out. However, as you probably know there are many ways to play the same song. Maybe I’m just getting the notes and not the chords, or maybe I’ve got the chords for the chorus, but not the verses. Even if I managed to figure out all of that without any training or structure I probably wouldn’t be able to play the song very efficiently or consistently. Now let’s say that you decide to learn to…insert your idea here. I’ll continue with the keyboard analogy for simplicity’s sake. So you decide that you are going to take a more intentional approach. Instead of trying to pick out the melody you take lessons from a pro who teaches you about hand placement and the mechanics of maneuvering up and down the keys the right way. You also learn some scales and how to read music. You really pay attention to the foundational principles of the craft and develop your skill set. You are going to not only be able to play the song more efficiently than I can, but you will be able to pick up any song quickly. You will be able to write your own songs and perform in recitals. The fact is you had a plan and were intentional about the way you were going about developing your craft. You were exercising the art of deliberate practice.
Make no mistake it is truly an art. Most of us cheat ourselves whenever we commit to any process, because we just mindlessly go about our “practice” repeating poor habits over and over again thus limiting our potential. If you look at people who truly excel at any craft you will almost certainly find that they are practicing/training deliberately as well. I’m going to re-commit to making sure I’m practicing writing my code deliberately. I’m going to break down the important components of each exercise and try to better understand what areas I’m doing well in and where I need more work. I challenge you to do the same in your everyday life whether it’s at work or with you significant other or kids. Let’s all commit to being the best versions of ourselves in everything that we do. You can do it I believe in you!