Persistence Will Set You Apart

I mentioned a couple posts back how difficult web development has become. When I started, you had to learn HTML, and a handful of key attributes to style elements (CSS wasn’t yet a thing). Since then we’ve seen a Cambrian Explosion in the industry. Out of nowhere was birthed an immense amount of complexity.

You’ve probably heard about Imposter Syndrome, or the idea that you are not deserving of your professional position and/or accolades. I don’t recall this being a thing in the past, but it quickly became one in the 2000’s. Many of the biggest names in our industry have expressed these types of feelings on occasion, and who can blame them?

As you progress in your career, you will inevitably be faced with complicated technical barriers. It’s part of growing, and it’s part of existing within a field that is itself growing. How you react to these barriers will determine your long-term success or failure.

My son loves video games. He’s been playing them since he was about 2.5 years old. And since he began, I have been working hard to instill within him the idea that he can do hard things.

On multiple occasions he has encountered a boss battle or an obstacle that he simply couldn’t surmount. He would come to me, shoulders shrunken in defeat, asking that I take the controller from his downtrodden grip, and advance him one stage further. Rather than do so, I would straighten his posture, and tell him “you can do hard things!”

I cannot express in words how much joy I feel to see him return to the game, try 2 or 3 more times, and then erupt in excitement when he succeeds. He is internalizing the belief that he is capable of great things.

I have to coach myself in a similar manner. Just a couple of days ago I was looking for a new hosting provider. First, I went to Azure. Within 10 minutes, I was ready to give up. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the dashboard.

Next, I went to Digital Ocean. They wanted me to learn about “Droplets”, or something. They had a “one-click install” for WordPress, but it left me only with a gateway to a UNIX console. It’s been a while since I rolled around in one of those. I was tempted to just give up.

What kind of example would I be setting for my son if I gave up? Am I not capable of hard things too? Certainly I am! I have spent a decade telling clients that Nothing is hard; but some things take more time. It’s time for that ideology to be more than a sales pitch; it’s time for it to be the foundation upon which my efforts are established.

There are generally two types of people in this industry: those who can do hard things, and those who shy away from hard things. I want to strive to be the former. I want  you to do the same. After all, we’re in this together.

Persistence will set you apart.

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