I never knew how to WORK.

Today, while writing, I hit upon an idea that may not be new to anybody reading this. But, in the deeper way I understood it today, it felt like some layer of understanding was revealed.

Growing up, I didn't learn to have a good work ethic. School came easy for me because of my December birthday. If you had turned 5 by December 1st, you got into Kindergarten at 5, otherwise you went in the next year. Random cutoff, but that's what it was. My birthday, on the 16th, meant I could start public school at age 5.75 - much older than other kids. Both parents worked and needed to get rid of me for the day. They enrolled me at a private school for kindergarten and first grade. 

When I tried to enroll at the public school, they noticed the birthday and the fact I'd already completed first grade. My mom made the executive decision to just have me repeat first grade rather than going into 2nd grade as the youngest.

Long story short - I double-downed on the first-grade skills. That mean I was reading and writing better than most all through elementary school. I wasn't amazing but work got done quickly. Fast forward 40 years, and I'm thinking about what it means to struggle with a piece of work.

In programming, it's easy to struggle — not because you're iterating all the time, but because you're learning the minimum required to get something working. If you iterate and complete lots of reps on a piece of prose, however, it's likely you're making massive improvements. The same goes with copywriting. It's especially true if you have some professional frameworks to follow.

Moving forward in my work, I'm going to develop some iterative frameworks for improvement. If it's design work - I'll think about CRAP principles. If it's writing, I'll find some other framework - like AIDA or PASA. I'm going to turn multiple passes and iteration into a new tool in my work box. This might reduce the number of projects I attempt and simultaneously increase quality.

This reminds me of your post about ordering beer in ten languages. I also identify with your upbringing a lot, though mine wasn't caused by being the older student in the grade.

You connecting this early setup to your current ways of thinking and doing is extremely helpful to people like me.

When it comes to software you say that you're learning the minimum required to get something working -> but in my experience the most fun and fulfillment you get out of software comes when you have an idea for something and you just implement it blazingly fast like magic because you know everything technical required and the idea simply happens to be a novel idea that came to you to grace your technical competence.

The other most fun time in software is when you super optimize the developer experience DX of the code. It's when things are working but you clean things up to make them not only work but sing and jive. This is immensely fun and I notice that anything Taylor Otwell releases has gone through this cleaning process to an admirable extreme. 

The benefits of cleaning code is different than what I had thought it was when first coming to the game. Initially I thought it was just so you could have cleaner looking code. But the real benefit is that it sets you up for the possibility to implement new ideas with the lowest amount of friction.

2021-02-22 13:45:22
I had the opposite experience with a September birthday. I started kindergarten when I was four, and I was still 17 when I started my freshman year of college. I did not find it to be a disadvantage to be younger than most other classmates. School came easy to me too, but I still had to learn how to work to meet my mom's high expectations.  
2021-02-22 18:15:05
Your comments resonate with me. I agree that getting good at the instrument so you can jam is where the magic happens 
2021-02-23 04:55:00