Like most people striving to improve and be a better version of themselves, I look at my work and mostly hate it. Maybe hate is a strong word but I find that it’s lacking that element that makes it great and not just good.
Sometimes this is a blessing in disguise. Thinking that my work is never as grandiose as I would hope makes me want to do better. Every single time. But at what price ?
The price is that never-ending feeling of dissatisfaction. Almost disappointment. Well maybe… actual disappointment. But here lies the crucial part, while some people quit. I don’t. And you shouldn’t either.
Sometimes when I’m able to deliver on a very challenging project, people have the impression that I’m so smart. And to be honest, I don’t like it and I don’t think I’m that smart at all. My secret sauce ?
I keep going when other people quit.
That’s it. Especially when you are a beginner, you have to accept the fact that you won’t achieve that very high bar you set for yourself. And that’s fine! Does that mean you’re not up for the task ?
So how do you get better ? Through high volume of work. If you follow or admire anyone in your industry, you can’t expect to get at their level on your first few tries. You have to keep going, reach deep down into that passion for your creative work and create more.
Eventually that nagging feeling of dissatisfaction fades away. Or maybe it morphs into something different. It becomes an understanding that, while you might not have it perfect this time, you might get a little closer next time. You just have to make sure there is a next time.
So why Flawed Engineer ?
Because that’s who I am. My work is not perfect, it’s flawed. My being is not perfect, it’s flawed. This blog is not perfect, it’s flawed. And while I accept it, I won’t stop trying to make everything a little less flawed.
Looking back at my early work, it’s not that good…at all. I got better by reading tons of books, taking many classes, coding often and making as many mistakes I could. I got interested in many different technologies, which expanded the horizon of my knowledge to a great extent. And I never stopped.
Do I do this every single day ? No. And you shouldn’t either. Your brain needs resting, and that is crucial for your well being. As my nonna (grandma in italian) used to say:
Health before anything else.
Without health for you and your brain you can’t keep up with your expectations. When you feel tired, take a break. When you burn out, take a break. Take good care of yourself!
I’ll close this first post with a metaphor that Warren Buffet used with middle school kids in a documentary. It really stuck with me.
When I was sixteen, I had just two things on my mind - girls and cars. I wasn’t very good with girls. So I thought about cars. I thought about girls, too, but I had more luck with cars. Let’s say that when I turned sixteen, a genie had appeared to me. And that genie said, ‘Warren, I’m going to give you the car of your choice. It’ll be here tomorrow morning with a big bow tied on it. Brand-new. And it’s all yours.’ Having heard all the genie stories, I would say, ‘What’s the catch?’ And the genie would answer, ‘There’s only one catch. This is the last car you’re ever going to get in your life. So it’s got to last a lifetime.’ If that had happened, I would have picked out that car. But, can you imagine, knowing it had to last a lifetime, what I would do with it? I would read the manual about five times. I would always keep it garaged. If there was the least little dent or scratch, I’d have it fixed right away because I wouldn’t want it rusting. I would baby that car, because it would have to last a lifetime. That’s exactly the position you are in concerning your mind and body. You only get one mind and one body. And it’s got to last a lifetime. Now, it’s very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don’t take care of that mind and that body, they’ll be a wreck forty years later, just like the car would be. It’s what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind and body will operate ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.
Take care everyone and never stop trying to get better!