Challenge yourself and be awesome

Posted by Filip Ekberg on 06 Mar 2013

Just about an hour ago I came back from my first ever run where I didn't stop to walk even once and ran longer than I've ever done before. Even if the time nor the distance is important to someone that is an experienced runner, but to me this is a huge deal.

About 3 minutes after I started running my pulse started increasing a lot and I got the feeling that I just wanted to go back home and lay back in the couch having yet another piece of chocolate cake. However I didn't, I told myself that I'd at least have to beat my last time and my last distance no matter if it was by 2 seconds and 2 meters; I just had to.

This isn't and will never be a blog about running, but bear with me, there's value for any software engineer coming soon! About 3 months ago I was asked at work if I wanted to join and run a half marathon, that's 21 kilometers and I've never even ran a fourth of that distance. For some reason though I said yes because I really need to get in shape to feel better, anyone that have a desk job (probably 100% of the readers here) know that it doesn't really do the body justice just to sit still for the majority if the day.

So I said yes to this half marathon and as I am a very determined person I am going to finish this race, no matter what time or in what condition; I am going to finish this race!

Here's why: I believe that challenging yourself over and over again will make you challenge yourself out of habit in the end. This might sound weird but think of it in engineering terms instead. If every day that I sat my foot at work, no matter if it's for developing trivial tasks or not I would challenge myself into writing one better line of code than the day before. Or even better, I would challenge myself into going back to the previous days work and improve what I had then developed.

In the long term challenging yourself will make you question your solutions and you'll start to think if this way is the best which ultimately will make you do very good solutions from the start; but there's always room for improvements! It might sound like a cliché but frankly I think too many of you forget to challenge yourselves or rather you forget to ask or take the time to do so. A friend of mine told me that he tries to optimize his coding performance so that he will output high quality code in a shorter time period so that he then have time to go back and refactor pieces of the solution. This is exactly what challenging yourself helps you do: Improve, Improve and Improve!

In the end, don't we all just want to be awesome at what we do? No matter if it's software engineering, running, catering or anything else for that matter?

Tomorrow when you get to work challenge yourself into something like the following and tell me how it felt:

  • Refactor a method that you wrote this week that you're not entirely happy with
  • Find a class, method or property that you feel needs to be explained better and add a comment or rename it completely
  • Dare to make a breaking change for the better of your product
  • Ask your boss for a license to ReSharper, JustCode or any other productivity tooling

Personally if I hadn't challenged myself into doing things that scares me I would never had stood in front of a group of people talking about programming, I would never have written my book and I would never have started my own company.

You can be awesome if you just put your mind into it, remember that you're just as awesome as you see yourself.

There's a chapter in my book called "Creating a challenge out of the trivial tasks", the ebook is currently available for €4.99!

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