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Failing is Succeeding

    • 2 posts
    August 5, 2014 1:23 AM EDT
    If you have not read the beginning of this tail please visit part 1: Have an App Idea? Start a business: How I did it under a month. You can find this entry here: http://blogsocialtoday.blogspot.com/2014/07/have-app-idea-start-business-how-i-did.html. In my last post I explained, to a limited extent, why taking action today with whatever you are pursuing is a critical first step to success. Furthermore, do not be afraid to invest in something you believe in.

    That said, let's get on with the story. So I hired my first app developer. And now I'm a millionaire. Just kidding. The simple truth is this: whatever you attempt to master in life, the process takes time.

    I had a startling realization about a year ago. Although many of the superstars in our world--Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, and Tom Brady to name a few--are naturally gifted, many of the success stories that you hear of, or perhaps don't, have resulted from applied diligence over time. Because of examples like the aforementioned superstars, many of us feel inadequate and unable to pursue greatness as a result. Rather, we continue to work a job that we are not happy with, date a person we are not satisfied with, and live in a town that we cannot escape. Hopefully I can help dispel some of these unfortunate beliefs.

    In order to make my point, two of my new favorite words are sedulous and assiduous. Yes, I am a geek at heart. All of these words--diligence, sedulous, and assiduous--generally speaking, mean the same thing. They describe an effort that is taken with care, persistence, thoughtfulness, and endurance. Anyone can run a mile. But how many can run ten miles a day for a year, or two, or three? You get the point.

    So, mastery takes time. But this lesson did not come easy for me. For example, I am a lover of the martial arts. Specifically, I am in the process of learning Jiu Jitsu. To date, I have four years of experience under my belt (no pun intended). Also, I wrestled for four years in middle school and high school. Yet, I nearly abandoned both sports early on in my learning process.

    For those of you who are not familiar with Jiu Jitsu, it is very similar to wrestling. That is, wrestling and Jiu Jitsu are grappling arts, or, in other words, they are ground fighting styles. In wrestling, the aim is to pin your opponents back to the ground, while in Jiu Jitsu the aim is to get your opponent to "tap" or give up as a result of a joint lock or choke hold. For both sports, needless to say, I am not a beginner. Or am I?

    The reality is that the "beginner mindset" is critical to success in life. Regardless of my successes, I am always questioning, analyzing, and contemplating ways in which I can improve. Whether it's a particular joint lock in Jiu Jitsu or my cadence and tone of speech while giving a presentation at work, I am constantly watching, adjusting, and improving upon my abilities. Time and time again, I here Jiu Jitsu black belts explain that once you reach the rank of black belt, which takes an average of ten years to attain, the journey of learning has just begun. And, having trained for several years now, I completely agree. For those of you who are reading this and cannot relate to the martial arts angle, think of anything in life that you have mastered. Whether it be guitar, singing, painting, or swimming, all of the beginning stages, and, perhaps, much of the middle stages, of learning were painful. Only after the ground work was complete, could the nuanced learning begin.

    But, for the sake of completing my point, I will return to the martial arts example. When I was a white belt, I almost quit out of frustration of "not being good enough" or not "getting it." I remember after a particularly difficult training session in which we live sparred, and I was beaten again and again by higher belts. I questioned whether or not I belonged in the gym and whether or not I would ever be good. For those of you who do not know the belt ranking system, in Jiu Jitsu, the ranks are ordered as such: white, blue, purple, brown, black. While I was in the locker room changing out of my gi, or uniform, a purple belt approached me. His message was simple, almost cliche. He said there would be a time that I too would reach the rank of purple belt or higher if I worked hard. But, I was not ready to hear this. I did not believe in myself. I thought there was something that I was intrinsically missing, that "it" factor.

    And I was not alone in my thinking. Despite the fact that we have all heard the classic 10,000 hour maxim that describes the amount of time it takes to master a given subject, many of us continue to be impatient, me included. In fact, it is quite easy to slip into the habituated mood of wanting more and to finish the race quicker than the person next to you. Yet, this mindset is short sited. The quote, "Never compare your beginning to someone else's middle," applies here. The reality is that we are all at different places in our lives, with different abilities, hopes, aspirations, so forth and so on. The end result: once again, be patient with the process and be patient with your self. Ultimately, for almost every success story, there was a long process of hardships and failed attempts that you cannot see. But, more importantly, the failures, the hardships, and the mishaps themselves are important contributing factors to why success was possible.

    So what the heck does this have to do with my app development? Well, my first attempt at hiring a developer failed! Despite this failure, I am happy that it occurred. In fact, if I had not failed, many of my subsequent successes would not have been possible.

    And this was no small mistake. It was a nine hundred dollar lesson. I fired the developer because he did not posses the full "tool chest" that was necessary to complete the job. For the sake of clarity, when discussing app development, there are two parts of the app: (1) the front end, also know as the UI (user interface) and UX (user experience); (2) the back end up of the app or web api (application programming interface). In simple terms, the front end is the glitz and glamor. It is the pretty effects, cool designs, and fun buttons that make apps so enjoyable to use. On the other hand, the back end is where the data that the app collects is stored and where the basic skeleton or logic of the app exists.

    So, again, the reason I fired my first developer was because he was unable to complete the front end design of the app. I needed a developer or several developers who had the collective capacity to design both front end and back end aspects of the app. I now understand that a great front end app design is necessary not only for user adoption when the app is launched, but also, with a clear front end, your developer will have a far easier time creating the back end logic connecting all the pieces of the front end puzzle together. Consequently, you should have this design in place before delving too deep into the back end development. Furthermore, a clear front end design, that you have agreed is beautiful and logical, allows your developer to continue his work without worrying that he is developing something that you did not intend for him to develop.

    Perhaps this realization that I have outlined above is elementary to many a computer scientist--the black belts of the computer world. Yet, I am not one of them. I am a beginner. The costly lesson was a critical step in my journey of understanding how the world of app creation functions. But more importantly it set me on the path of further learning, a journey that will be fully outlined in my next post. The way I look at it now: I payed nine hundred dollars for an education, but more importantly, the kick in the ass to get it right the next time through.

    Visit my blog: http://blogsocialtoday.blogspot.com/
    This post was edited by reedaaronben at August 5, 2014 1:24 AM EDT
    • 55 posts
    September 19, 2014 2:54 PM EDT
    Thanks for sharing this!