Imagine a work area that is not a whole lot more than 25 sq. ft. (give or take). That’s all the space that is available to you to set up your shop, for you to stand and to serve. And serve a steady line of hungry customers. You carry all the ingredients in make shift containers, and none of them are exactly light. You don’t really have any help. There are no more than 5 dishes on the menu (so it is very repetitive) and each of them needs to be hand prepared at real time. You have to do it for about 4-5 hours a day. About 3-4 days a week, at the least. And for about 2 decades. And you have to do all this with a constant smile. If this doesn’t sound daunting to you, it is only because I perhaps did a poor job capturing what I saw in words.
What I have attempted to describe above is an eating place run by a single lady inside an Indian Grocery Store in Virginia. She makes a few different Indian snacks and we’ve been frequenting that place for over 15 years now. The price has changed over the years, her clientele has, the menu has undergone a few modifications, and she has moved her business to a number of stores (from one grocery store to another, that is) over the years but what hasn’t changed one bit is her relentless commitment and consistency. Rain or shine, you can be rest assured that you will find her on those days, and at those times. I mention this specifically because this establishment isn’t a traditional restaurant and I have seen one too many of her competitors show up for a week or two, or a month or two, and then, disappear.
While I can’t say for sure, I am reasonably certain that she didn’t do an MBA, go to one of the better schools or do as many management courses as I probably did in college. Yet, she understands business and entrepreneurship wonderfully well, and a whole lot better than a lot of people. Certainly better than someone like I who did numerous courses and projects way back in college but didn’t necessarily absorb the essence of entrepreneurship which I think is consistency. I understand that much better now, thanks to inspirers like this lady and gadgets like Fitbit that reset to zero at midnight only to subtly remind you that all the good you had done that day was no good anymore, and you had to start all over again.
Personally, I think the example above should serve as a great parallel for Software Development. For anything in life really, but given that I earn my bread and butter in the field of Software Engineering, I tend to relate most things to that. The work I am currently doing requires me to implement close to 300 APIs, and they aren’t the simplest of APIs or repetitive ones either. So, I couldn’t implement one and mimic it in other places because (and rather, unsurprisingly) there are certain nuances that have to be dealt with on a case by case basis. Despite the fact that I’ve done this sort of a thing for years, it still was overwhelming. But I have enough gray hairs to know that it is futile to over plan and think too far ahead so I just took one API at a time and started implementing it. A month into it, while I still have a long way to go, I think I’ve made some inroads and I feel a whole lot better about the grasp I have even on the ones that I haven’t started working on.
Missing a target of 10K steps daily on just one day, and trying to make up for it the very next day means you have to do 20K steps. That’s not easy. Try missing it on 2 days, and making a plan to walk a 30K steps on day 3. It is daunting. Miss one more, and yes, you are now getting into territory where those steps are most likely lost forever. While I always knew consistency was key, Fitbit just propelled that realization much further. That’s probably the best $130 I have ever spent.
Don’t miss your daily targets. Don’t tell yourself you can easily make up for lost steps, or APIs. Whatever (good) it is that you do, do it consistently. Never miss your daily targets. And success will be yours. One day.