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Proficent

Dear Reader,

Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong.

— Unknown

In scuba diving, the skills a student learns are important, they could save their life. New divers are taught skills to “proficiency”, they can successfully perform the skill on-demand. They can’t teach others, but they can save their life, or the life of another diver.

When training Dive Masters, it is a different story. Dive Masters have to be able to perform a skill to to “exemplary”, they have to be able to perform the skill so well that the presentation is an example to other divers. Then, and only then, can they begin to teach that skill to others.

Tech on the other hand, has the mantra of “the best way to learn a new skill is to teach it”. It is fine to present to others what you have built or learned, and inspire them to experiment with your ideas. This is proficiency. This however, is not teaching. Teachers should be able to perform to exemplary, not simply to proficiency.

Learn your important skills – life and career – to exemplary. Then – and only then – go out and teach them to others.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

Help Someone

Dear Reader,

All of us have platforms; some of them are just a packing crate, others are tall mountains. Regardless of how high your platform is, make sure you use it to help others every now and then.

Somebody out there is just starting out. You may only be standing on a box, but they have to envy that box because they are standing on the ground. Reach down, lift them up, and share your platform. Sharing doesn’t make your platform any less valuable to you, it makes it more valuable to your audience.

Help someone reach your level because others have helped you get there, and because others will help you in the future.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Make it last

Dear Reader,

When I started Day Camp 4 Developers, it was a one-off project to raise funds for a bigger idea I had. Here we are 10 years later and DC4D is still going strong while the other idea never even made it to a public announcement.

I just finished reading Ryan Holiday’s book “Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts“, a book that talks about building (writing) things that last 10 years or more. This book has helped me change my attitude towards DC4D more than anything else. I want DC4D to be around for the next 10 years and the 10 years after that.

What project are you working on that has lasted longer than you expected? What project are you working on that has the potential to impact generations?

In software, it is easy to think that what we build today may last five years if we are lucky. Think longer term. Build your projects to last 10 years. Unlike me, do it on purpose. ?

Until next time
I <3 |<
=C=

Systems have to be fault tolerant

Dear Reader,

In scuba diving, you breath through a device called a regulator. Regulators are designed to fail “open”. If something goes wrong, it is better for a diver to have too much air than no air at all. The designers of the regulators acknowledge that at some point, the devices will fail, and try to minimize the damage done by failure.

The same thinking should go into our personal systems. I didn’t make resolutions this year, I setup systems. These systems have to take into account that ‘life happens’.  Resolutions fail hard, systems are fault tolerant.

Whether you are diving, coding, or living, build your systems to be fault tolerant.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

p.s. for more information on creating systems vs. setting goals, check out my post “Systems, Not Goals

Systems, not goals

Dear Reader,

I spent many years setting New Year’s resolutions only to see them slip by the wayside by the end of January to be forgotten like a child’s toy whose batteries had run dry. Then one year I just stopped. I recognized the futility of the process and just stopped making New Years resolutions. Or at least I stopped telling people that I made them. I still ha them in my mind. I changed what I was calling them, they are now  ‘goals for the new year’.

It didn’t help.

Then somewhere around March of last year, I started reading again. One of the books I read was Scott Adams’ “How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big“. In it he talks about ‘systems, not goals’. For example, if you want to write more, don’t set a goal of 1,000 words per week, setup a system that will force you to write.

So this year, while I still have resolutions/goals, I am setting up systems to get to them and focusing on working the systems, not the goals themselves. Time will show us if this is a better way.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=