Unless you’re born with a special skillset, it takes practice to be good at anything. It’s rare that we hear about all the time people invested in something before they became famous. You can be naturally good at something, but even still you need to work at it before you make your big break.

I see people all around me day in and day out doing things repeatedly. Whether it’s their job or a hobby, the continue to work at it, but they quickly forget that it takes hard work to become great. It can be demoralizing to realize just how long it might take you, but if you keep doing something, you’re bound to get better at it, even if by accident.

I’ve been working on Keryx for 4 entire years just in my free time. I didn’t know any Python and barely knew how to program when I started. The only goal in my mind when I started was that I wanted to help make offline Linux a little easier for people. After releasing the first version, I knew it was crap. I redid it, that version lasted a lot longer. It was still crap. I spent hours thinking and planning on how I was going to improve it. This past summer I finally had the free time to sit down, rewrite it from scratch and apply all the things I have learned over the past 4 years. This time, it turned into something I’m actually quite proud of, and I even impressed myself a bit. There is still a lot I know that could be done better, but I never gave up even though so many times it just felt like an extra burden that I didn’t want to bother with. I was ready to just drop it several times. Sometimes I wanted to just go play video games and pretend the bug reports didn’t exist, but I knew that if I kept trying I would certainly get more out of it if I kept trying than if I just gave up. About 50,000 downloads later, I have to admit, all that time I spent was well worth it. I’ve met some really incredible people through working on it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

It’s easy to forget a quitter, but it’s hard to ignore persistence. People give up constantly, their accomplishments are easily forgotten because they did not reach a goal they could be proud of. Many people try things for a little while, get bored when they realize they aren’t great and then move onto something else. Just don’t give up.

And don’t confuse pivoting with giving up. It’s often important to take a couple steps back, look at the situation from a different viewpoint and realize that maybe you were facing the wrong direction. The goal is still there, you were just looking at a mirage of what you thought the goal was.

Say you want to become a musician. You pick up an instrument and start playing. There’s something there, you really enjoy it, but something is missing. You start recording a mixing the audio on your computer and realize that what you really enjoy is DJ’ing. That’s not giving up on music, you still are doing something you love, it’s just another direction from what you set out for.

It’s easy to do a mediocre job at something. Anybody can do that. What’s tough is to have the persistence, determination, and commitment to continue doing something for 10,000 hours until you are an expert. Those are the people who are remembered. Those are the people who are renowned. Those people persisted through all the tough practicing. That’s what you should strive for.

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