In an alternate universe long long ago, I used to race motorcycles. I completely sucked during the first year of my racing career. My friends at the track would say, “The only tools in Elaine’s toolbox are a hammer and a bigger hammer.” What I lacked in skills and experience, I compensated for with brute force. I learned through trial and error. By the time I retired from racing, I could hold my own near the front of my class.
It’s hard to step into unknown territory with no tools. People might take lessons, attend classes, acquire some base skill set to ease themselves into a new sport. But “Learn to do X” is such a daunting line item on a to-do list. If “Learn to ride a motorcycle around a track“ had been a prerequisite to racing, I never would have taken that critical first step.
A hammer is a universal tool. Everyone has one, and it can be applied to any situation. With enough force, it will break down any barrier to entry. It’s like jumping into cold water feet first.
We’re working on a new project now. Not smopf. For weeks, we’ve been tiptoeing around the user interface, finding workarounds to compensate for a lack of jQuery knowledge. Enough.
I spent most of this evening chasing out a bug – a recursive function was attaching multiple event handlers to an object. It took a lot of brute force to hammer it out of hiding. Sure, I could have taken the time to learn to code properly, but at this rate I would have still been trudging through Coursera. That’s no way to boost morale. Besides, I already had these hammers.