Recently, I ran wc -l on a few directories to find out I had written over 15,000 lines of code in the last month and a half. How does that happen? I think it's because I challenged myself like never before.
FoxyCart decided to finally build out the REST API we've been thinking about for years. The only problem: I've never written a REST API. What if I fail? How can I build something I don't fully understand? What if I think it's good and everyone else hates it or thinks we did something stupid? Cue George McFly voice: "I just don't know if I can take that kind of rejection."
Face It Head On
I'm talking about fear, of course. The lizard brain, as Seth calls it. That which keeps us from doing the work. How we choose to face (or avoid) our fears determines a large part of our success in business, relationships, love, life and most anything else you care to list. Facing our fears
head on causes us to stretch and grow. It allows us to accomplish what
was previously considered impossible or at least too
dangerous/difficult/risky to try. Conquering our fear is the very essence of progress, victory and invention.
As an example, I chose to not only build this API, but through a friend's encouragement, submitted a talk for tek'12 to present on it. Fear of public speaking? Check. Worried about messing up an API thousands of ecommerce stores will rely on? Yeap. Facing it head on? Absolutely.
Challenge = Lots of Work
It hasn't been easy. I've spent
more hours than I care to admit reading papers, blog posts, websites and RFCs.
I've watched webinars and presentations while emailing and chatting
with the best in the business about REST APIs (I posted some links if you're into that sort of thing). The result? Hopefully the foundation of our entire business for the foreseeable future.
You can challenge yourself in more ways than just business. Maybe you
set a resolution this year to get in shape. Have you signed up for
Runkeeper yet (or the zombie version)? What about building
relationships? Maybe you could set a goal to have 100 cups of coffee in the next 100 days.
Challenges Include Failure
Whatever you want to improve in your life will take a challenge. It
won't be easy and you'll probably fail quite a few times before you see
success. Along with those 15,000 lines of code, I probably
deleted 10,000 or so as I wrote, rewrote and rewrote again the early prototypes. What's undeniable is the improvement in myself as a
developer. Success isn't guaranteed, but progress and self improvement
are—if you're willing to clock the hours, face your fears head on and
put in the work.
So, are you challenging yourself? Leave a comment below and we can dialog about it.