Brick by Brick

Building things is hard. That’s true for software development and a ton of other things in life. Building meaningful relationships, building a reputation, building a better world. Whatever your construction site is, building is hard.

Sometimes things come easy and that’s when we forget that things can be hard, but time will surely remind us at some point.

My life hasn’t been very long by the standards of many, since I’m 28 and I haven’t had a sky-rocketing entrepreneur career or interviewed my first 1000 people yet.

I guess I feel compelled to write this because I have been in the position to help many people, mostly through professional guidance as a teacher or as some kind of peer in some discipline.

Mostly the questions heading my way are specific and about technology, but the bigger picture actually mostly paints one answer:

Be humble, but believe in yourself. Press on, unaffected by your own demons dragging you down.

It’s quite painful to see people that give up trying, because they don’t believe in their own ability, regardless of level of competence or people they compare themselves with. I can compare myself to Elon Musk or Nikola Tesla all day and I’ll always come up short. If I take a more realistic approach, even to people above my skill level, I can come to more reasonable conclusions, but it still doesn’t really matter how far they are, but how far I’ve come.

From a sociological view I’ve academically outdone everybody in my family that’s alive right now, but in other disciplines I certainly lag behind them by far.

In terms of career I’m no Elon Musk, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but compared to many people I’ve studied with I’m doing alright. To be honest, I don’t know what people do for the most part and we went in different directions, but it’s alright. I wasn’t forced to switch industries, despite adversities or detours. I partly do what I love, writing software and more importantly: solving problems.

The milestones you set on the way should always be how to get to the next point of your progression not to the level of anyone else. Just think of all the beautiful individuals of the younger generation that fall for the illusion that the reality of their beloved super stars is reflected by their respective instagram stories.

The most value you can contribute to anything in your life is by pressing on calmly and as well-balanced as possible. There may be a lot of steps involved, but if you let your own expectations or pride overtake you, get torn down emotionally (by yourself) and it spills onto everybody around you, that’s far more harmful than to accept that you can’t Elon Musk every day. Yes that’s a verb now.

If your partner thinks you’re not doing well, they’ll let you know to bring down the trash or remember to light some fucking candles once in a while.

If your employer thinks you could do better for your current position you’ll not get an A+ on your next performance review.

So what?!

  1. You need to decide for yourself how much you want to give.
  2. If you are your own worst critic, find healthy ways of dealing with emotions, because they are your most brutal feedback to your actions.
  3. If you surrender a construction site in your life, don’t do it without trying different approaches and talking to your partner/employer about what is killing you/dragging you down

I have no benchmark for this, but I am very motivated by criticism and it doesn’t have to be put in a polite, healthy or non-violent manner. I’m not encouraging harmful communication, but regardless of if it is, it motivates me. Mostly I actually have a pretty bad time without a feedback loop or an insane moonshot goal.

Also as a disclaimer I should add that I don’t have life, progress or learning figured out, but for me and for everybody I have seen learn or progress, a grain of self-confidence and taking defeats as feedback and encouragement, have gotten them much further than everybody that I’ve seen give up or run in self doubt circles.

Giving up is always an option you have, but I strongly suggest otherwise as long as you have not tried everything you have considered trying and as long as you don’t know what else there is to consider.

In the end learning always means you end up with more questions than answers.

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