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Josh Pullen
Josh Pullen

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at joshuapullen.com

Skill as a Function of Interest

I've long grappled with the idea that some people are inherently better or worse at certain skills than others. Some people believe it, but it feels wrong. I want to believe that everyone is equal, but that doesn't seem to be true. For example, I had a much easier time picking up programming than any sort of social or musical talent. For others, the experience has been the opposite.

Lately, I've come to a different conclusion. I wasn't born a programmer any more than I was, for example, a musician. The key difference was that I continued to write code enthusiastically even when I wasn't any good. Even the simplest progress was exciting for me, which wasn't true of other skills. That excitement fueled me to continue practicing programming even when it was hard.

I believe that skill is a direct function of practice, and engaged practice is a direct function of interest. If, in an alternate universe, I had spent 5,000 hours practicing music (like I have with programming), I would probably be pretty good. But I can't practice that much because I don't have the interest to sustain it.

In a way, this is the most beautiful insight of all. The only challenges you can't overcome are the ones you don't want to overcome. I take comfort in that.

Discussion (6)

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chiangs profile image
Stephen E. Chiang

There's a perfect Bruce Lee quote, which also happens to be by favorite:

"The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus."

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Nathan Englert

I love this quote from Henry Ford, which relates pretty well here:

"Whether you think you can or think you can't -- you're right."

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pulljosh profile image
Josh Pullen Author

I love that!

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Eugene Karataev

Wow, 497 projects in Scrath 🤯 That's impressive!

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Josh Pullen Author

Yeah. 😜 It took a while to get my bearings, but making projects was always too fun to stop!