Stay with Problems

Build your mental stamina to finally solve problems.

Amount of Effort

Hardly anyone will care how much effort it took to solve a problem. They only want it to be solved. In a way, we must be similar in what we care about.

We must be able to see the outcome of a solution as the reasont to stick with our work until it happens. We need to be able to stick with it through the challenges of boring drudgery, length of effort, uncomfortable learning, frustrating setback, and feelings of inadequacy. If we don't, we simply will not reach a solution.

Albert Einstein famously said:

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.


I was an instructor to beginning programmers at a 12-week coding bootcamp. The incoming students had a wide variety of skill levels in the things that we might traditionally believe most indicative of their future potential and success. Some were great a logical reasoning. Some had great design skills. Some could communicate the right questions to ask. Some were great at mental visualization.

But I think one of the characteristics that stands out the most as being important to their success is determination.

Programming isn't a simple field of study. It's accessible, yes. And these bootcamps are another great opportunity for more people to learn it. But there's a learning challenge that new learners are immediately faced with when starting into this field of study. Are they able to see the steep incline in learning curve, grit their teeth, dig in and keep going until they peak that first rise? And what about the rise after that?

A Hill to Die On

I don't want to diminish the importance of finding your determination and pushing through to a solution, because that's the point of this thought. But perhaps this isn't your hill to die on.

If you slam your mental self against the mountain of this challenge, perhaps you'll do yourself in. Perhaps you'll see it as a sign you aren't fit for such mountains to climb. This is possible, but it's probably not true. You're probably judging yourself at too-high a bar, too quickly. Find help. Find another route to solve this problem. Rest and rejuvenate, then try again -- and again. By being determined and sticking with it, you'll build your ability.

What do you do when a problem has frustrated you in order to find the determination and energy to eventually solve it?