Tech is both attractive and hard. It requires patience and persistence. It can be hard to stick with it. Having the systems in place required to enter the field and stick with it is the difference-maker. It doesn’t matter if you are an aspiring developer or an experienced digital marketer. These three things will guarantee success, provided you continue to grow and use your creative muscle around what they look like. If you feel stuck in your learning or career, consider if you need to approach these from a different perspective.
Practice every day.
Get a Mentor.
Ask (specific) questions.
Get a Mentor
Get a mentor. Maybe 2 or 3. Not 12, but maybe 2 or 3. I know there are lots of people out there who are more than happy to help you, if only you ask. It will require some leg work because not everyone will be able to give you the help you need. I recently listened to this podcast from Amy Porterfield on Finding a Mentor. I’ve followed Amy for a while and I can tell you she is consistent with who she listens to. That is an important part of mentor selection. You want someone you can listen to now and in the future, ideally. That will require that you find someone who is growth oriented and will continue to achieve bigger results. If not, you may pass your mentor up in certain areas and that’s okay. If you find yourself frustrated by your mentor, consider if it is time to move on to the next level. That’s okay. Your mentor can move to your peer group.
In identifying an initial mentor, consider if they have done what you want to do, even if that is only in one area. You might know much more about different one topic and that could be a great benefit of your relationship — you could exchange information about your areas of expertise. Typically, however, your mentor has been down the path you are trying to go. I think it’s great to get someone who has had great success in the field you are looking to enter, but at least one of your mentors should be someone who is just a step or two in front of you. They will have really actionable information and be able to help you with mechanics and specifics.
But don’t sell yourself short. Maybe that third mentor could be someone who is really successful in your desired field. Maybe you found them because of a book they wrote or a class they taught. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who feels like a “stretch”. It will likely take time, and persistence. That doesn’t mean being annoying. In fact, the most common reason you would annoy them is if you tried to push too hard too fast. Instead, if a mentor is worth the time, be patient by adding value to them. Share their stuff. Recommend their book. Let them know how you are sharing their info. Social media makes this infinitely easier. The one mentor that takes a while might be your 3rd mentor. You could find 2 rather quickly who have been down your path recently and then take your time to find a mentor who is more of a reach. It will help you grow and give them value. Everyone likes to know how they are making a difference.
Practice every day
Practice every day is already happening for those who have been in the field for a while so challenge yourself to practice something new. How can you approach your work differently? What if you didn’t do the same things you have been doing? Test that out.
For newbies, however, the daily practice thing is how you get to the next item on our list — ask specific questions. Asking general questions typically means you haven’t put the time and thought into something that is required. That can feel harsh and frustrating because frequently, we’ve been working really hard and *feel* like we should have the right questions. It’s okay, if you don’t know your question or you feel overwhelmed. The solution is to narrow your focus. What is the one challenge in front of you? How can you solve that? If you’ve hit a roadblock…
Ask (specific) questions
Who can you ask? How can you phrase it in a way that enables you to get the answer and get it quickly?
In development, the frequent answer is to share code. I know that to beginners that feels hard and revealing. In my work, I got on camera — a lot. I record video podcasts, do FB Lives and create video content for my courses. I understand that it can be scary. I’m not a fan of pictures or being on video so I was really scared when I started — and it showed. But I got better by doing it. Every day. When people tell me that they are nervous being on the video, I say — I can fix that! They are always amazed! Until I tell them to go on camera every day for two weeks and you will be cured. They don’t really like that answer:( It does work though! So if you don’t like sharing your code or wireframes (ahem, You are techY coachees!), do it every day for two weeks and you will find the magic! The magic in specificity.
Learning how to solve YOUR specific question in tech will be the magic answer because you will learn why you think the way you do and how to learn even more and do even better. You will get feedback that is really helpful and moves you forward. You will also get feedback that is unhelpful and requires you to become more certain in your decision making. It’s okay to decide you don’t agree with someone’s opinion of your work. That’s actually great! It’s that type of thinking that makes you really successful in tech because different experiences and different software designs are what will make your product stand out. Repeating what others have done will lead to a boring and monotonous tech landscape. Doing it differently is interesting and will bring users who think more like you or want what you want.
So be brave and share your work, asking really specific questions! Do that, while you practice daily and find 3 mentors and your technology success is guaranteed!