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Continuous Improvement

After writing my article on Perpetual Learning, I came across the same concept in the book Core Performance Essentials by Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams (a fitness and nutrition book). To quote from the book: "It's like the Japanese concept of Kaizen, which we translate in this country as 'continuous improvement'. In America, we tend to look for quick fixes and dramatic turnarounds, whether in business or fitness. There's nothing wrong with that mentality, but it often does not come with a foundation for long-term success. Kaizen strives for steady, uninterrupted, incremental change. It's originally a Buddhist term meaning 'Renew the heart and make it good'." (page 97)

Verstegen has a lot more to say about exercising and staying health in this book. While he is talking about physical workouts and trains professional athletes, the same principles apply to professional software developers, except our 'workouts' are mental. One quote in particular really jumped out at me: "No matter how busy you are, there is a window of opportunity. ... Set some manageable goals, and then find that one period of the day where you can make it happen, and schedule it. This is no different from what I do with professional athletes. We take their year-long schedule and daily routines of practice and games and work in training around it. I know, I know; if you had an exciting, high-paying job contingent on being in top physical condition, you too would feel inspired to work out harder. But here's the funny little secret of my business: Most athletes, because of the grueling travel and rigid schedule of competition and practices, plus family, do not have much time for day-to-day conditioning. The reason they are world class is that they find the time in their day." (page 196, emphasis mine)

As software developers, I think we can relate: we are so busy with our daily jobs that it is hard to find the time to learn and grow. However, if we want to excel in the craft of software development, we need to find the time each day or week to train our craft. Regular, consistent improvement is the path to mastery.

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