I had a chat recently with my freshly graduated sister about how she has to start adapting her mentality to the upcoming new changes in her life. she has been a student for more than 16 years and from her grades and her history as a student I can say that she mastered the skills of living as a student. she really did it way better than me when I was a student.
One of the things that were mentioned during our chat was the importance of having a role model. at school they didn’t teach us about this and it’s one of the billion things we have to figure out on our own. and anyway, each one of us have to figure out who is his role model on his own as this is a personal matter and totally depends on your preferences and how you see your future.
I remember the time when I’ve just finished high school and was starting to go deeper into reading about programming and I didn’t have someone to guide me. I joined a number of programming forums and started to read the posted questions, answers and who’re those who post the best answers. during the first few months, I made a list of few smart programmers who seamed to be the best (and history proved it). they were what I wanted to be like on the short term.
I started following their answers and discussions on the forums, and luckily at that time blogging was a new trend and most of them were starting to create their new blogs where they started to share more and more about their ideas and experiments. I don’t remember that I’ve ever missed reading any of their posts at that time.
While I was still a nope, I used to always try to implement their codes again and add to it. also, I tried to beat them at answering the questions on the forums. I didn’t know the answers of most of the questions, so I used to rush to my programming books and API manuals to figure out the answers to post them. yeah, some of the answers weren’t that good, but I was making progress everyday.
My goal was to reach the same level of experience of those smart programmers and develop the same good habits they have. that was the first milestone. it took me a couple of years to start feeling comfortable having discussions with them in a way that can make me and them feel that we’re all on the same level of thinking. this was when I started to feel that I need to add new bigger role models to my list.
I’m still in contact with most of those smart guys till now, but I don’t think they’ve ever thought that I was taking them as role models. I really appreciate the value they add to my life.
I had to add new role models to my list. so I started to follow some of the smartest programmers on a global level, and they helped in adding a lot to my experience and personality. they were actually the main reason I started contributing to a number of open-source projects.
A role model or a number of them is an important thing to help you keep track of your progress, they teach you indirectly, inspire you, and they help you know what you want to be and what’s not.
Just try not to fall in the trap of being a fanboy. your role model is a human. she/he isn’t perfect and will do a lot of stupid stuff sometimes. you just should know this well and try not to copy him/her when it comes to those bad things.
Don’t put limits on how hugely successful is your role model. if your huge role model is Neil Armstrong, Dennis Ritchie, Steve jobs, Mahatma Gandhi or any big name; try also to have other role models that you can reach their level of success in few years. then later add more successful role models to your list after being as successful as your old role models.
Just dream big, put milestones, and get the best out of each milestone.