Every answer is at your fingertips, but time is scarce. What will you choose to do?
I encourage everyone I meet to take the mindset of the “lifelong learner”. If you aren’t a little embarrassed by who you were ten years ago, then you’re probably not improving. And the best way to help the world is by first helping yourself.
But why coding?
My first love was actually ice hockey. I grew up in Michigan, USA, where hockey is a big deal. I’ve been on ice since I was three years old.
Hockey taught me work ethic. I couldn’t be the best if I didn’t work hard. But it also taught me what it’s like to feel superior, to win.
And I had to learn how to lose. The hard way.
Ego fragility paved the path of lifelong learning. The only reason you would seek to change is if you’d like to see something different about yourself.
I got a heavier dose of repeated practice just before high school when I picked up my first guitar. How cool would it be to make those sounds that all my favorite bands make.
There’s that ego again.
Guitar is much different than sports. You don’t have the same physical inputs. You have to listen to what your ears are telling you to know if you’re doing it well or not.
Monotonous. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Over and over.
You can practice for an hour and not get much better.
But if you practice for an hour every day for six months…
Once in high school, I started working out. And my oh my was that fun.
If you like to be rewarded for your effort, start working out. The strength you gain in the first few months, known colloquially as “newbie gains,” is perhaps the single best investment anyone can make.
You see, your body is capable of magical things. But your brain slows you down, fearing injury. There are stories of women lifting cars off of their children. Now that is motivation.
What brakes are you riding with?
I ended up turning fitness into a career, a job title I still carry to this day. I’ve learned a lot in the field, coaching for 10+ years and even acquiring a masters degree in Anatomy & Cell Biology.
If you’ve never dedicated time to help someone out, do it. Talk about rewarding. It’s especially important if you’re the type of person who isn’t quite sure that you’re worth anything. We’ve all been there. When you teach someone something new, that doubt disappears (temporarily, so remember to practice that skill).
What can you teach?
I started to ask myself, “How can I make a greater impact?” Though the impact is great, coaching people to be stronger and fitter doesn’t scale well. I can help 30-50 people, but any more than that and there’s no way I’ll be able to sustain it with how I operate. I think in our Information Age, a personal touch goes a long way. How can I free up resources to allow for interpersonality?
That’s why I look to tech.
I always liked math in grade school. And I picked up computers pretty quickly, at least relative to the people I knew. Maybe coding could be the answer?
I tried it in college and failed. I didn’t know how to teach it to myself. And I did not have a very involved teacher. I fell behind and never caught up.
But in the last couple years, I decided to pick it back up again. I wanted to tinker with my personal website. I already had a little sandbox to play in. Low risk, high reward; might as well try it out.
So I taught myself HTML and CSS. I learned how WordPress worked. Then I learned how use PHP to change up a WordPress website. I learned how the web works and started a few websites for some fitness friends.
Then that started to get boring. I can help others spread their messages, but surely there’s a more powerful way.
That’s when I started diving into Python and the Django web framework. Maybe I can start making websites that aren’t WordPress websites?
I considered a few coding bootcamps and even going back to college. But it didn’t make sense to me to totally abandon a career that is still working for me. I know some people are there, but that’s not what drives me.
What drives me is getting better. Learning new things. Developing myself.
If you want to improve, one of the easiest things to learn is basic coding.
And don’t wait for the time to be right. The time is never right.
Start coding now.