I Have No Talent

27 Jun

by John from RailsTips:

The other day someone sent me an IM and thanked me for my open source contributions. They then said something about wishing they had my gem/code creation talents. I didn’t miss a beat and informed them that I have no talent.

It is true. I have no talent. What I do have is a lot of practice. And I am not talking about occasionally dabbling in Ruby on the weekends. I am talking about the kind of practice where I beat code that isn’t working into submission (though often times the code wins).

The kind of practice where all of a sudden I realize that it is 2am and I’m exhausted physically so I should go to bed, but mentally I feel on fire so I let the code have me for another hour or two (I imagine this state to be like a marathon runner or ironman near the end of their race).

The kind of practice that leads to a GitHub profile stuffed with code I regret (and am embarrassed about, but don’t delete to remind me of where I once was) and code I am proud of (not near as much as I am embarrassed about though).


I am also not very smart. I have a good memory (though my wife will tell you it has some missing pieces) and I work really hard. Really hard. I get that from my dad. He is also not very smart (his words, not mine), with a good memory and works really hard. :)

I am sick of hearing people say, “Oh, I love your code, I wish I could do that.” You can. The only reason you can’t is because you don’t practice enough. I used to think that I wasn’t smart enough. I was jealous of those that did crazy code stuff that I couldn’t even comprehend. Then, one day, I ran into something I did not understand and instead of giving up, I pushed through. I sat there in front of my computer for hours and wrestled with class and class instance variables.

That day was a turning point for me. It was the last time I thought that whether or not I was successful depended on my talent or intelligence. It really comes down to hard work people. Ever since then, I have attacked each thing that I do not understand until I understand it.

I will close with this. I still suck. There are still so many people out there who are far better than I am, but that does not stop me anymore. I do not measure myself against the programming greats, but against those projects on my Github profile from years ago.

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