Can You Deal With That Much Frustration?

I have an experience that always surprises me is when someone sits down with me to watch me write some code. Most of the time the person will turn to me after a few minutes and say something to the effect of,

I can’t believe that you sit here all day just Googling how to do things on the Internet. I thought you were actually like really smart or something. You do everything wrong four or five times before you get it right.

And just like that the magic is gone…

I had this experience again just the other day after spending some time with someone who wanted to learn how to program. We wrote a few simple programs together and during the course of our time, I Googled “how to do something” every few minutes. I watched for the “ah-ha” moment when they would realize how easy it is. After about twenty minutes I saw the expression I was watching for. What my previously eager guest said surprised me at first,

Maybe I’m just not a computer person…

Huh? I didn’t understand so I said,

But I just showed you how easy it is to figure out how to do anything!

And they responded,

I don’t think I can deal with that much frustration.

Then I realized that it wasn’t the process of writing the code that kept this person from being a developer. It was the experience of the code not working 100 or 1000 times before you got it right. Each of those “failures” can be an extremely painful experience for some folks. My guest then said,

In my mind you sit at your computer and just write out this program. That’s where you spend most of your time, typing the actual code. Then you spend 5 or 10 minutes fixing any bugs. But, in reality, you spend 1% of the time writing the program and 99% of the time fixing the bugs. I could never deal with that much failure.

It made me sad, but I think this is not a particularly uncommon scenario.

Has anyone else had this experience?

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