Mastering the excellence

Anyone may find useful reading Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years by Peter Norvig (you can find many links to translations in that page).

It is a good reading for computer programmers and also for everyone: media and some groups of people push the idea “become famous and rich, you need only to do that“. “That” is to become a singer, dancer, soccer player or anything else (each country has its own pantheon, even hip-hop gangsta rappers) and you can avoid to study and do hard work for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately they always forget to say that singing, dancing and even kick a soccer ball requires years of training. To quote Tyler Durden from the movie Fight Club

We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t.

As the post category says, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch: you can’t get something valuable for free, quickly or easily.

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7 comments on “Mastering the excellence

  1. film dude says:

    sometime you just gotta take care of business, eh

  2. Mana says:

    Good advice from Norvig, it takes time to become expert in any field.

  3. [[ ]] says:

    I think you miss the point (at least partially).
    You keep on forgetting the talent. Talent does allow you to skip most studies and troubles.
    The problem is that they make you believe you are talented, so you can have all without any effort.
    However, “you can’t get something valuable for free, quickly or easily” is something you should repeat to yourself as a mantra.
    :-p

  4. J_B says:

    If a normal person take 10 years to learn something a talented one will take “just” 5 or 6. The kind of talent that makes you understand immediately any given subject without trying very hard is a fiction. It simply doesn’t exist and will never exist.
    During my life I met a small (but not negligible) amount of people that are really talented and all of them had to work hard to get results. Most of them worked harder than me. They were talented so they seldom ended up on dead paths and their results were brilliant. But none of them ever managed to accomplish anything without hard work.

  5. [[ ]] says:

    @J_B: this makes me think that you know skilled people, not talented ones.

  6. J_B says:

    @[[]] : trust me, they are generally considered to be almost on the genius level. Even Einstein (the typical example everyone think of when speaking about geniuses) had to work hard to develop his Special and General relativistic theories. Newspaper usually forget it but those two theories are the work of a life, not the outcome of a sudden burst of genius.

  7. [[ ]] says:

    @J_B: I don’t want this conversation to end up in a “I am right/you’re wrong”-way. We could be both asked for “citations needed”, but fortunately we are not on Wikipedia 🙂

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