Moments are a powerful thing. Moments of triumph, moments of failure, and moments that define us. But most importantly, how we feel in these moments.
Over the last few weeks I had a breakthrough along my development journey. There wasn’t a particular moment where I realized I broke through a wall. Rather it was countless moments where I was able to solve a harder problem both in the initial brainstorm and soon thereafter with code. I was able to replicate the process again, another time, and once more.
The feeling is like nothing I have experienced before as I realized the walls were coming down and now I can’t get enough of the feeling to the point where others have noticed my successes.
Remember: Coding is hard. There are so many different directions you can take with one line of code that can transform your entire approach, but that’s why it is so intriguing and why no individual journey is the same.
You’re probably thinking, “Good for you. Why are you sharing this with me?”
Good question. The reason is my breakthrough wouldn’t have been possible without my own self-discovery a few weeks ago. While not everyone can relate to my journey, they can relate to the overall goal. Without understanding ourselves and our capabilities, it makes it difficult for us to move forward.
A few weeks ago I was struggling with my code and it felt like every step I was taking was in the opposite direction of where I wanted to be. It was showing in my work, and colleagues mentioned it in meetings and discussions.
So after work one day I Googled… a lot. My search found an article that changed everything, it told me about myself, and others like me. It mentioned a book called, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Amazon). I put down the book I was reading at the time, and immediately dove into Quiet.
Quiet explains how a social and outgoing culture can make it difficult for an introvert to make meaningful contributions to the world. This is despite some of the extraordinary skills, talents, and abilities that introverts can contribute and they should be encouraged and celebrated.
While it is impossible to summarize her book, which I recommend to everyone even if you consider yourself a full-fledged extrovert, here are two points that really stuck with me:
- If you find something that challenges you that you have a passion in: dive in full force. Even if part of the challenge includes something you dread (i.e. public speaking) you’ll forget your fear to conquer the mountain. Cain describes this as emotional vacation. Of course, you have to strike a balance, and you can’t always be outside your comfort zone. But as long as you have passion, you can go the distance.
- Find out why you are here. What is it that you are meant to contribute? Then share it with the world. One of my favorite quotes from Ms. Cain comes from her TED talk:
“Take a good look at what’s inside your own suitcase and why you put it there… Introverts, you being you, you probably have the impulse to guard very carefully what’s inside your own suitcase. And that’s okay. But occasionally, just occasionally, I hope you will open up your suitcases for other people to see, because the world needs you and it needs the things you carry.”
Quiet helped me realize a lot about myself, but most importantly that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable in many different settings that American society considers “normal” (i.e. attending a staff meeting knowing I have to spit back all of my project work to the group).
In particular, one of the stories Susan Cain mentions is about Steve Wozniak, one of the creators of Apple. Ms. Cain talks about the struggles, and the ultimate journey Woz embarked upon from his childhood through adulthood to create Apple. Woz devoted: hard work, long hours, after work hours, blood, sweat, and tears for many years. His story hit home with my coding journey, and helped me realize it’s about hard work, perseverance, and commitment needed to succeed. Woz also helped me realize that introverts can focus on these ‘life quests’ much more easily then extroverts.
Ever since finishing Quiet, I feel more assured and justified as a person. I will never be the ideal America extrovert, but I will always be me and I will make a difference in my own way.