It All Begins With a Side Project

It All Begins With a Side Project

Growing up building. For all that I've created, I had no prior knowledge of how it should be done. It usually started with me confidently responding to someone “Yes, ...

I grew up building all sorts of things. Simply because I couldn’t find a single class at school challenging enough to keep me engaged.

Every day after school (sometimes during school — don’t tell mom), I looked to build something new and exciting. Ranging from wooden swords and tree-houses at 10 years old; to websites and computer viruses (apologise to those affected) at 14; and to construction industry ERP systems at 16.

For all that I’ve created, I had no prior knowledge of how it should be done. It usually started with me confidently responding to someone “Yes, this can be done.” My curiosity and positive attitude propelled me to learn what was required on the spot, making my building experience interesting and fun.

Learning by building

I gravitated towards projects that were more challenging and meaningful, which kept me engaged and motivated to passionately keep building. With every new project, not only did I find my knowledge growing, but the projects were also growing in both scale and impact.

In the age-of-information we now live in, I find learning by building more relevant and important than ever before. Action-driven learning is more effective than abstract learning, especially now given the information overload we all experience online. This learning method focuses your attention on what is immediately required to solve the problem, while also physically showing you the impact of your actions. This drastically improves the brain’s ability to understand and absorb the new information.

Thinking about how learning can be optimized for effectiveness takes me to another important experience that really helped me learn and grow. It is a discovery that stacks up to project building and unlocks 10x personal growth; it’s something I’m still working on at this very moment…

Building with others

With my project ideas now growing in scale, I realized that I could only do so much alone. A strong need to connect with like-minded individuals started rapidly growing in me and I immediately recognized that this wasn’t a new feeling. I had felt this a couple of times in the past and it had been fulfilled by the connections I made during my military service and university studies.

I realized that the only way forward was to find my tribe; to connect with like-minded people who also love building and working together. It is what I call the “ultimate learning method”, connecting with people who have similar interests and are equally passionate about learning, collaborating and creating new fun experiences.

And that’s how my current journey started. I was 25 and at the highest steps of the corporate ladder, but felt no real sense of purpose and fulfilment. I just knew that I had to take action quickly and that’s exactly what I did.

Finding like-minded people is not an easy task. Especially when living on a small island nation with a population of 600,000 and in a pre-social media era. There’s a small chance you find interesting connections in smaller communities, such as through schools and universities. But this wasn’t really all that helpful for me given the old fashioned schooling system and also that I had already graduated at this point.

side-project ideas self-improvement programming coding latest-tech-stories startup personal-growth

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