The Art of Figuring Things Out

Einstein

Since I was 13, I never took a class for programming and very few books peaked my interest. What I do know is this: Given a goal, I believe I’ll figure it out. Sometimes the first round of code won’t look pretty, but it works. As I’ve continued to learn more, I would refactor code to make it cleaner, easier to understand, and more efficient.

Sometimes you may have no idea what you’re diving into, but you have a choice: do you take on the challenge and figure it out or do you miss out on an opportunity to learn something new?

Taking on the challenge diving head first is scary, but it can lead to so many things: Perhaps you’ll learn something new about yourself, good or bad. Perhaps you’re going to figure it out quicker than you thought.

For me, I believe that you have to be willing to fake it until you make it. One of my favorite books, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, has really reinforced my idea that the obstacles can lead to big outcomes.

My Dilemma

Never memorize something that you can look up.

Over my career, I’ve relied on figuring things out and, to be humble, have become pretty darn good as an ASP.NET C# Developer. I jumped into C# without learning some of the basics; I had no idea what object orientated programming (OOP) meant or the different design patterns. I just knew one thing: I believed that I’d figure it out by “hacking” my way through, using Google, Stack Overflow, and examples on GitHub.

I also learned something along the way. In my opinion, you can only really memorize so much. I’ll admit, sometimes I forget how to something simple in JavaScript and I’ll have to do a quick search and then it all comes flooding back in. Even Albert Einstein said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.” Think about this for a second. Back then, there wasn’t a concept of the “internet” or Google for that matter. I think we can all agree on one thing: Albert Einstein was incredibly intelligent, but he also knew that “imagination is more important than knowledge.

There have been times, especially during interviews, that I’ve been asked to define a technical term and my mind would be blank. I often ask myself, “Is it really that important that I know the definition or that I know how to do it?”

A Couple Takeaways

You have to be comfortable with making a mistake along the way. When I started working for one company, I made a mistake and deleted a database table. My mentor and supervisor looked at me and said, “Well, at least I know you’re working!” Once again, I’ll reference Albert Einstein who said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

You have to believe in yourself and your previous abilities that you can do it. Take the obstacle, the path less traveled, and in the end you’ll at least get some personal growth.

People can be really smart or have skills that are directly applicable, but if they don’t really believe in it, then they are not going to really work hard.

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, via Entrepreneur

Finally, remember…

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

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