Keep Throwing Punches

To go along with my last post about Jeff Bezos analogy of baseball, Bezos: Business ideas are like baseball, except you get 1000 runs for a home run, I wanted to follow up with one of the most important concepts I’ve ever run across in life.

Bezos focused on why you should be taking at-bats, but there is something more helpful for me and that was an article by Jeff Atwood. If you don’t know who Jeff is, he started StackOverflow, the programming question and answer site, as well as Discourse, the online commenting system that a lot of large companies use to enable comments on their site.

I don’t worship success like a lot of people do but I do respect Jeff’s work. Some years back he wrote an article called How To Achieve Ultimate Blog Success In One Easy Step

The Premise and Whether it’s Valid or Not.

Its premise is that effort generally wins overall. That you should keep producing even if you are doing poorly at something, you should continue to just produce because you’ll eventually be successful.

You need to keep throwing punches, as many as you can, even if you are terrible at boxing, because without throwing punches you’ll lose for certain. And, who knows, maybe you’ll knock the other guy out.

That’s easier said than done. If 1000 runners ran a race they’d all say the same thing no matter who won.

You just have to keep working hard, believe in yourself and eventually you’ll win. — Every race winner

That’s true, it has to be. It has to be in the sense that no matter who won that would be the requirement. No one is going to be able to win without those ingredients. So there could certainly be some survivorship bias there. Maybe Jeff was the one lucky one.

Or maybe not

Certainly, a lot went into his success in blogging and business ventures, the least of which isn’t luck, but his point really does related to what Bezos said. Bezos said that you should be aware that you might score 1000 runs in business, whereas you can only score 4 at once if you were lucky enough to have a Grand Slam Home Run.

If that is the analogy then what Atwood is saying is that you should take as many at-bats as possible, because who knows, maybe you will hit 1000 run homerun.

You’ll certainly improve along the way.

How That Applies To Me

I ended up having a lot of success in my career because I followed that advice. I did a huge range of things to improve my skillset in Software Development.

Late night, I’d be up doing repetitive typing exercises on, particularly tricky code segments. I’d make flashcards to memorize useful facts. I made songs, yes really, songs to memorize programming facts.

Some of those things were pretty silly. Some didn’t work at all. But some did, even the goofy song I wrote ended up helping me recite a hugely important fact about E.F. Codd during an interview. The song basically told the whole tale of how the relational database model came into existence.

I would have never remembered it without that song, because who cares? The fact that I could rattle it off made me seem like a genius though because you have to be good if you know that level of detail right? Well, no, you don’t but it doesn’t hurt 🙂

Keep throwing punches

Don’t throw actual physical punches because, well, they tend to cause brain damage and other CTE related conditions. But in life, I think it makes sense to keep throwing punches even when you know you will lose. Because you might not.

Think of this blog. The odds of it succeeding and getting any readership is nearly zero. But that’s fine, I’m not stressed at all. I’m just throwing punches and letting the chips fall where they may.

Regardless of how it goes, I’m going to learn a lot along the way!


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