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.

← Back home