I’m convinced success boils down to one quality: Focus and Perseverance. Apply both attributes and I promise your mind will be adaptable, driven, and fully capable of tackling the task in front of you.

It doesn’t mean focusing on the future, nor the past. It means staying fully in the moment, solving the problem in front of you with the goal of knowing you will get it done. It means staying calm under pressure to think through a problem slowly, not giving up when things fail, and staying focused on seeing something through.

Still in the beginning stages of Launch School, having analyzed when I have failed miserably and when I have succeeded, I can say that whenever I do succeed, it came from a calm, collected, and driven mindset that did not focus on anything else but solving a problem. This kind of thinking can be applied both in software engineering and any other aspect of life as well.

My high school career was characterized by extreme academic success: achieving fluency in multiple languages, starting multiple campaigns and businesses, and maintaining high-grades. However, I began Launch School in a traumatized state from a personal life event that kept me stuck in the past, challenging my ability to solve the problems in front of me. I can say from experience that past-thinking like this will leave you hosed.

What are the benefits of learning to think slow? Similar to mindfulness meditation, which I will touch on further in this article, learning to think slow allows the mind to place all of its resources on the problem directly in front of it, to balance analytical thinking with intuition.

How do I develop slow-present-thinking? Learning to meditate is one of the greatest skills anyone in a cognitively-demanding job should learn. Meditation has shown to increase activity in the brain's pre-frontal cortex and calm down what many refer to the ‘monkey mind’. The ‘monkey mind’ is the emotional part of the brain that stays alert to the immediate environment: this is also known as the limbic system.

The limbic system has the ability to shut off executive functioning in the brain when in a state of hyper-arousal known as ‘fight-or-flight’. The limbic system will shut off the parts of the brain that would not be necessary during an emergency. Unfortunately, this happens to the brain a lot in modern life, even if there isn’t an actual threat. Nevertheless, it can severely hurt our ability to solve important problems under stress.

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Brain Scan of A Subject Before and After Meditation

For students currently in Launch School, a traditional-school, or in the workforce…Stay Present, Stay Focused.

Thank you to the Launch School staff for encouraging me to struggle well and not accepting anything but excellence. I highly recommend this program for the driven learner.

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Student at LaunchSchool: www.launchschool.com MyWork: www.kylemccurley.com

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