10 Things programming has taught me about life

The idea for this article started about a month ago. In one of those moments of reflection, where you are looking outside the window on a rainy day, taking a shower, or maybe just doing nothing.

I was thinking: what has programming taught me about life?

And the answer was ………many things.

Let’s be realistic, as someone more famous than me already said, your job is gonna fill the most of the time of your life. How can that activity not teach you anything? And when it comes to programming, where you are probably writing a piece of code for someone else to use, that job can then teach you a lot.

So here is a brief, personal list of ten things programming has taught me.

Hope one day I will add more to this, so it will mean I didn’t stop learning……

#1 Give quality to get quality back.

I learned this by writing a lot of shitty code and getting a lot of shitty results back. Think about it, when in a system, you give value to the service of something (or someone), you can expect to get nice results back. If you write good code, you get good results. If you write quality you get quality back.

If in your life, you give quality to others, you add value to their existence, then you can expect to get some value back. I also noticed this when opening my twitter account. I was posting some useless content in the first days or so. So you can quite imagine the zero results I was getting. Until, one day, I posted a very good link to a code resource. And that was it! I was getting a lot of nice feedback, good comments and follow backs!

So in the end, what I learned was to make the first step, to propose myself as the best individual I can be both to add quality to my life and to the other’s one.

#2 Take your responsibility

Maybe somebody wrote some bad code and now you are paying the consequences for it. Maybe the irresponsibility of someone has made your life harder, or maybe something just happened to you and you have no fault for it. And that’s the key concept for this lesson, you may not have the fault for something that is happening to you right now, but you have the responsibility to do something about it. Just remember, complaining about it won’t solve the problem EVER! So what I learned was: when in troubles, move. Really, don’t be stuck in the same position, start acting as soon as you can and fix the problem.

#3 Your job is going to kill you

Unfortunately, this is one of those bitter realities we need to accept. When you do something for a very long period of your life, that thing might become a source of problems for your health. I mean, I’m sitting all day as a coder. I have back pain sometimes and so I need to take care of my body in order to stay healthy. So this very short lesson taught me to: your health is important, your body is your veichle to this world, keep care of it in order to be healthy and to not have problems in my life.

#4 If you want it, you can accomplish everything.

I won’t hide some details of my story. I didn’t have quite a good time when I was a kid/teen. My family had problems and I lived part of my life in a very bad neighbourhood of my city. Also, I wasn’t really getting many friends in school since I felt like their mindset was too different from mine. But with all of that, I was still coding and working my ass to provide myself with a better future. And when I finished school, I finally got a job as a programmer!. That was the tip of the iceberg you know, before getting to do this there was a period of burning desire, preparation, practising, and suffering before getting to that point. And today I am proud to say that I am building for myself the lifestyle that I really want. Really, remember guys, If you truly want something, if you really focus about it, if you really work for it, eventually, you will have it.

And every day I look at this place of my new beautiful city and I am grateful for this lesson:

#5 Perseverance is everything

This is strictly connected to the last lesson. If you really want something, like learning a new skill, learning a programming language, or a framework, you have got to be consistent. You have to keep learning and doing it every day. Just by that, you will ensure yourself the success.

I realized this when I was getting no results the first times of programming. I would code once every two or three days. And so when I would come back to that desk a couple of things would always happen :

1) frustration: for not remembering most of what I did three days before

2) Lot of time wasted trying to get back to that point

3) actually being demotivated, this would then produce a very ineffective study session.

Practice practice, repeat, and then practice some more!

#6 Be guided by the joy of discovery, not by the fear of sufferance

This is probably one of the most beautiful things I have discovered in my entire life. The process to become a programmer has been hard. When I moved to my new city I had nobody, I was worried about the future, about the money, I was feeling sad and victim of the fate. But then, day after day, things started to go better. I realized that now I was free. New city, new people, new me. I had the opportunity to learn a lot and experiment a lot. I would look at the world with a new perspective. I am not saying I stopped being afraid of things. I still am, every day. But I simply realized that when you let yourself be guided by the willingness to discover new things, to experiment, regardless of the consequences, that’s when life gets good.

#7 Make failure a habit

As I have already written, in a previous post, I have failed so many times while programming.

I have tried to be constant in learning something, and I failed.

I have tried to keep the promise to read that useful article, and I failed.

I told myself: stop watching Netflix and get that pc on, and I failed.

I don’t think we should be too much afraid of failure you know. Life is always about going up and down, maybe in the period of a day, or even a moment. First, you are up, and then down, and then up again. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. So what we can do about this? I think the best thing do to is just to accept this condition, and understand that failure is just part of a much bigger process toward success. We have to recognize that we are fighting for something, and by recognizing failure as a part of getting that something we become stronger and learn.

Fail often my friends, you will become stronger.

And remember that always, when you are in the most struggle, it means that success is just a step away.

#8 The man of a thousand faces

Ok so keep this in mind, since I work for a consultancy agency, very often I get moved to code in other workplaces. So you can basically imagine what that means:

New colleagues

New technologies

New project

And guess what? I have to reinvent myself every time to accomplish a good result. I have to create a new version of me to work with new things, and most important, to get along with new people who don’t know me. There is a lot to learn from that. But the most important thing is that you cannot use the same approach for everything. I know, I am a programmer, and so I should always find a way to standardize something and make it reusable. But that is not the case with real-life situations. You have got to wear a mask sometimes, and the ability to wear the appropriate mask in the appropriate moment is a must-to-have skill in life in general.

#9 Putting your life to the service of others

Some people say that your life is not complete if you don’t put it to the service of others, and you know what? I agree. The whole point of life is interacting with others, it’s the meeting with another face, another story. Life gets its real meaning when you share your story with someone else. Can we use our job, our skills, to the service of others ? I think yes. There are so many fields we can use programming for. Creating projects for other people to use, applications, life-changing technology, and even send people to the mars

Find what you can do well, and use that to the service of others.

#10 Remember the important things

This also is linked to what I said before. It’s easy to lose real human contact with people when doing this job. I was literally shocked when I saw somebody sending me an email with a simple message when they were sitting NEXT TO ME. When our moments will come, the important thing will be how we have made others people life better and what rapports we have got the ability to establish in our lifetime. What we have experienced, not what we have. Who we have loved, and who has loved us.

Keep it strong, and be happy.

For more content like this, check out my blog at www.thecoderswag.com and my twitter profile here

Piero Borrelli