What I learned from the gym

You walk into your local fitness center, what do you see? Provided it’s been long enough since the New Year, you’re probably going to see predominantly fit people. And even before you pick up those relatively puny dumbells for the first time, you’ve started to second guess yourself. Maybe the gym is only meant for the strapping Gastons of the world, and you just aren’t cut out for it.

Of course, here’s where the lesson comes into play. If you take a look around and you notice a noticeable lack of people like you, then over time there are two basic scenarios that can unfold:

  1. You leave and the population becomes a little less heterogenous
  2. You become like them and the population becomes a little more homogenous

Pretty sweet setup, eh? All you’ve got to do is stick around and do your thing, and in a matter of time I’m sure you’ll be sporting all manner of muscle.

So here I am, at PayPal, surrounded by people who are, on average, around 7 years my senior, and seemingly 7 times my skill level in programming. At first I was a bit daunted, troubled by the mad skillz of my coworkers. Then I realized that the same people who hired them hired me, and if I just do what I do, I shouldn’t be too much longer than it took them.

In fact, the reason I was daunted was because I am able to appreciate their skill. And that appreciation serves as motivation to keep improving myself and to stay humble, yet confident, along the way.
Ira Glass, host of This American Life on NPR, describes the process for working in the creative field, to which software engineering is no exception. In fact, thanks to benchmarks, easy comparison of solutions, and overall high competitiveness in the field, it might even be a little tougher to be a coder.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it’s been a while since I’ve been to the gym. But my CSS is getting crazy ripped.

3 responses to “What I learned from the gym

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