The pros aren't just faster than you

I’ve been teaching today. I love teaching and passing on my knowledge, and I think when you get to any level of competency in your career you should be doing it too.

We should all pass our knowledge onto the next generation. Teaching makes you better at your job, and makes somebody else better at their job too. It’s probably one of the only honest careers left.

Anyway, I digress, and we’re only in the second paragraph.

Whilst I’m teaching I like to give lots of “live demos” as I believe it’s one of the best ways to help people understand how coding works. It also lets the students see how I do things, and they often ask me questions like:

“What’s that shortcut you just did?”

Or:

“How did you do that?!”

These questions are often asked with amazement, and a doubt that they’ll ever reach the level of competency that I’m displaying. They will reach it though, with time and practice.

What most students I teach forget is that I’ve been doing this thing—web design, development, branding, marketing, using a computer for a job—for about 13 years. I’ve sat at a computer every single day for at least 9 hours a day for 13 years. With that amount of practice and time you tend to pick up a trick or two.

The students often see me blasting around my computer really quickly and presume that most of my speed in getting things done comes from that: being able to do things quickly. But when you become a pro at something, speed is only one small factor.

When somebody wants to learn how to code they presume that they just need to do exactly that: just learn how to code. Actually, it isn’t as simple as that. You need to learn how to use the tool that you’re using to write code as quickly and efficiently as possible too. You probably need to learn to problem solve better too.

The pros aren’t just faster than you. They’re more efficient. They waste less energy. They know when to give up and ask for help. They know exactly where to go to find an answer to a problem they’re having. They know all the shortcuts, all the tricks, all the tips and they use them all every day. They probably never start from scratch with any problem that they face.

Speed is much less important than efficiency. When I’m looking at doing something, I’m looking at the most efficient way to achieve something, and then I want to know how I can repeat this every time. Then I want to know how I can do it quicker next time. Then I want to know a better way to achieve it, and then the cycle continues.

When you want to learn from a pro, don’t ask to just learn their skills. Ask to watch them doing their job. Watch all their little shortcuts. That’s how you become a pro.