TL;DR — Forget about competition. We all have unique skills that add value to what you’re doing — stay different. Talent comes from doing something you love.
I wasn’t always an engineer. As a musician with a heavy passion for creating anything that you can call ‘art,’ it was a struggle when I first dove head first into web development to build a simple music blog.
Wrapping my head around the idea of ‘thinking like a programmer’ was no easy task. But after a few weeks of bashing my head against a concrete wall, I finally got the site up and running and felt like my heart was about to explode with joy.
Five years later, and I’m still feeling the joy, just without as much head banging (mostly). I enjoy the process so much that I started making websites for other people so I can think like a programmer every day.
When I started this journey I found that many of the great programmers in this industry started young — real young — and I quickly felt the sharp sense of discomfort knowing that I’ll probably never be as good at them at what they do.
As someone that didn’t start working on websites before hitting puberty, I always felt like I was at a disadvantage of being ‘late to the game.’
When I’d struggle to make something to work for hours with no progress, I’d eventually decide that I should just give up now and save myself the trouble. Luckily for me, I didn’t.
Will I ever be as good as (famous programmer)? No, but that’s a good thing. Comparing myself to someone else is an endless hamster wheel of wasted effort. Why does it matter if you are better or worse than someone else? Will that bring you joy or make you a better (or worse) person? And more importantly, how do you define better?
I’ll probably never be the face of a massive ecosystem like Facebook’s React framework, but that doesn’t stop me from contributing on GitHub or making people happy with the value my agency brings to our clients; and it definitely doesn’t stop me from getting better than I was yesterday, the day before that… and so on.
And most importantly, I’ll aways be different than everyone else, so they will never be as good as me at some things. Let’s explore this.
The fact that I’ve been a musician for so many years is one of my greatest strengths as a website builder. I think of websites as a beautiful album, with powerful lyrics (mission statement), a unique style (brand) that’s created with several instruments (products and services) that people enjoy listening to (user experience). I get inspired most from album artwork, band t-shirts, posters and anything else that I can get my hands on from my love of music.
But it’s also worth thinking about how someone like an ex-Plumber might see websites differently. Perhaps as an intricate piping system (products and services) with a specific flow of information (mission statement) that needs to run as smoothly as possible (user experience) and make people’s lives better (mission statement).
Whichever way you want to spin it, it’s easy to see how anyone can bring a unique mindset and style to the table — this is how you become great and add value to people’s lives.
There’s always someone out there that’s better than you at certain things. Someone younger, more obsessed, more dedicated and with abilities that seem to come natural. Even though this is what most of us call ‘talent,’ I think there is much more to it than that. In my opinion, talent simply comes from hard work and an intense desire to get better at whatever it is that you enjoy.
Think about how fast time flies by when you discover a new hobby that you’re crazy about. You may not consider the time you’re spending on it as ‘work,’ but it is. You’re honing your craft, one step at a time… and it feels easy.
Now compare that to something that you’re learning purely to make more money or get a degree that you don’t care about. The only reason that you see these as hard work and not the other thing is because you’re not having fun and time drags. Solution: either have fun at everything, or earn a living doing things you enjoy.
I started making websites simply because I wanted to spend my time doing what I love. I’m not only happier than I’ve ever been, but I magically seem to ‘work’ harder than I ever have before, which in turn leads to more money, experience, and happy clients.
I’ve spent years telling myself that I wasn’t ready and that I’d never be able to code or design like my competition, but I now realize that I don’t want to be like them — I want to be myself, in the purest way possible.
Doing what you love not only brings you more joy, but better results. SL