opinion // Apr 09, 2024

Shortcuts Are For Amateurs

The only way to get better is to do the work. To try, to fail, and to learn between each iteration. Seeking "shortcuts" only destines you for failure.

Shortcuts Are For Amateurs

One of my all-time favorite memes (if you can call it that) is the intro to the podcast Shop Talk Show. After a bit of guitar strumming, you hear an audience shout "Just. Build. Websites."

That phrase comes from one of the hosts of Shop Talk Show, Chris Coyier, of CSS-Tricks. He coined the phrase after finding himself constantly responding to the question "what should I learn next?"

There's an immense amount of wisdom in that line. It doesn't just apply to websites, it applies to everything. Whether it be cooking, your marriage, or becoming a next-level programmer. The only way to get good at something is to do it.

The inverse is to constantly seek out shortcuts. The "how to" or the "for dummies" or the "AI prompt that kills programming." It's not that you can't learn anything from those things, but how and why you pursue them matters. If, instead of sitting down and bashing your head against the keyboard on a problem, you reach for the shortcut, you're doing yourself a major disservice—no matter how good the hype around the shortcut may be.

This is the way of the amateur. And where most people get confused is in the ambiguity of the word "success." That word easily tricks others into thinking that they couldn't possibly learn or figure something out—they have to seek an "expert" or someone who has been "successful" in that area.

Here's the secret: the only reason those experts came to be successful is that they didn't take shortcuts. They did the work. They put in the time. They suffered, first, and then only later came to success.

Over 17 years of "just building websites," I can say without a doubt: if your goal is to get really good at something, just show up every day and do it. Don't worry about the day-to-day progress. Instead, focus on whether or not you're improving your craft. The details work themselves out in the end and before you know it, you too, are an expert.

Written By
Ryan Glover

Ryan Glover

CEO/CTO @ CheatCode