At the last Triangle Ruby meetup the scheduled speaker had to cancel because of the flu and we were lucky enough to have Sandi Metz come speak as a “backup.” She gave a fantastic talk on Grit that I hadn’t seen before and it was amazing and inspiring. If you haven’t seen this talk, here’s a video from when she’s given the talk previously. I would definitely recommend watching it.

One thing she mentioned during the talk that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how little innate skill has to do with success. Grit is what matters, and this has a lot to do with another concept that I think is incredibly important, the fixed vs growth mindset. Basically, a fixed mindset is believing that things like our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static. Either one is born an artist or one isn’t. Either you’re good at programming or you’re not. Whereas, a growth mindset is when one understands that all skills are learned. Artists are artists because they’ve worked at their art. Good programmers are made, not born.

This was a great reminder for myself and also tied in really well with a conversation that myself and some other alumni had with some current Iron Yard students recently. Every cohort, the Iron Yard has an “Alumni Huddle”, where previous graduates go back to answer questions and give advice to current students. I enjoy going to help out with the Iron Yard in general and mentoring students, so I try to go to every Alumni Huddle I can.

This time, while speaking with the students, I started to think about something that has really stuck with me. Programming skill, while very important, has very little to do with getting a job out of code school or how good you’ll be at programming as you go along afterward. Caring about the craft of programming and giving it your all is what really matters. Hopefully, between us expressing that to the current students and Sandi’s talk, which many of them attended, that point was driven home.

It’s an important lesson and definitely a great reminder both for the students that are just starting out and for myself.