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Strap on those running shoes & move your feet!

Yesterday, we read a great post on Hacker News called "Move your feet."

Photo via State Library of Queensland, Australia

Yesterday, we read a great post on Hacker News called “Move your feet.” In it, a developer named Matt Swanson detailed how he had set himself two goals for the year: to learn how to write tests for his Rails projects and two, to start running.

Eight months in, he had read four books on test driven development for Rails, watched 28 hours of screencasts, and taken two online courses, and yet, not written a test. Conversely, he had run 866 miles.

What accounted for this disparity? Simple: when it came to running, Matt didn’t mind being bad at it. He trusted that he would slowly get better, and as long as he kept running, he would get in shape.

On the other hand, when it came to writing tests for Rails, he wasn’t able to tolerate being bad at it. Having previously gone from being a bad developer to a good developer he knew intimately the mistakes a beginning programmer makes and how inefficient one is. He didn’t want to have to re-learn those lessons in another context and hoped that by drowning himself in books and tutorials he could skip straight ahead to being a master.

The result? Nada.

In case the lesson here is not clear, allow us to spell it out for you: Get comfortable with not knowing and being bad a things. It’s the only way to learn new stuff.

Now, this is great life advice and applies pretty much across the board, but it’s especially important when it comes to the tech industry. Here’s why: technology changes really, really fast. The change is constant, in fact. So even people who are black belt masters in [insert-any-technology-you-can-think-of-here] are constantly on the verge of being demoted back down to novices whenever the latest new social media computer programming application interface device comes out.

Allow us to give you an example of how this can be a real, daily challenge: we were recently giving a workshop to a group of internet marketers. Everyday they are in the position of pitching advertisers digital and social media campaigns. The problem? Given the ever changing nature of the digital landscape, they often have a hard time guaranteeing results, and have difficulty convincing advertisers to take the risks necessary to create truly exceptional marketing campaigns.

The advertisers are understandably nervous, but what other option do they have? The best any of us can do, given the nature of digital media, is to try out the new thing, learn quickly as we go, and see if  we can’t make magic happen. Turns out, the best way to get to the magic is to prepare yourself with hours and hours of hard work.

So grab those running shoes and go leap over that proverbial sand dune!

We recommend you start by learning about HTML, CSS & JavaScript.

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