[README] How to be a High-Quality Noob

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How to be a High-Quality Noob

Post by dbh97 »

Hello there. My name is David, and I am a noob.
We noobs can get a lot of flack. And for good reasons. We tend to ask a lot of dumb questions, try to solve problems with dumb solutions, and just get in the way in general. But that doesn't mean we need to go hide in a corner until we're not noobs any more! That ain't gonna work. Instead, we need to put forth some effort to be High-Quality Noobs. Not just your garden variety noob, but a noob that people won't hate. What does it take? Well, a core principle that I've been thinking about lately is "Teachability". Last Sunday the following writing was read over the pulpit, and I thought it was good enough to share:
So what does unteachabilty look like?
  • Don’t take notes, read books, or learn anything unless it’s the bare minimum or what’s essential for exam purposes.
  • Don’t ask questions or attempt anything that might reveal your ignorance or risk you looking stupid.
  • Don’t accept responsibility for your failures but blame anyone and everyone else.
  • Don’t seek or accept one-to-one personal guidance or mentoring from parents, teachers, pastors, elders, etc.
  • Don’t listen, but talk, talk, talk about yourself, especially when you’re with someone you could learn a lot from.
  • Don’t take criticism or correction without resentment or retaliation.
  • Resist moving out of personal comfort zones in work, study, ministry, or relationships, but always look for the easy and familiar route.
  • Don’t read, listen to, or learn anything that challenges existing presuppositions, practices, and prejudices.
In contrast, teachability means:
  • You’re aware of the limitations of your own knowledge and abilities.
  • You admit limitation, inability, and ignorance to others who can teach and help.
  • You regularly ask for help, instruction, guidance, and advice (before the event, not after disaster strikes).
  • You learn from anyone and everyone you can (the best educated pastor I know writes notes for his own benefit even when listening to a novice preacher).
  • You listen to others carefully and patiently with a desire to learn from everyone.
  • You’re prepared to move out of your comfort zone, try something different, make mistakes, look stupid, answer wrongly, etc.
  • You don’t give up when you fail at something, but seek help, and try again and again until you get it right.
  • You’re willing to change your views and practices when convincing evidence is presented to you, even if it means admitting you were wrong.
Source: David Murray - http://headhearthand.org/blog/2013/03/04/the-most-essential-life-skill-teachability/
OK, sounds nice. But how do you put this into action?
Let's have some practical advice to counter the tendencies of unteachability, and put the principles of teachability into action:
  • Read through the wiki. I know it's in pretty rough shape, but there is a TON of information there that people are always re-asking in Slack because they just didn't read it. The same goes for the forum. There is a gold mine of content in various threads.
  • Acknowledge that you are a noob within your own mind. Forget about your "education", "credentials", and "résumé".
  • Acknowledge the same to others. This actually isn't too hard if you've properly acknowledged it to yourself.
  • Get on the forum or Slack and ask questions about things you don't understand. You can do this without being demanding! It comes over a lot better if you acknowledge your noob-ness.
  • When you are given answers or advice, be quick to lay down your preconceptions and start from scratch. There's a good chance that the person answering you has a better conception of your problem than you do. (Even if you think they're a noob! - but then again, if you think you're a noob that shouldn't matter.)
  • Don't be afraid to get out there and try things. Try looking through the options in TunerStudio and see what's out there. Try modifying the code and see if it works. (Or even compiles) You'll learn a lot.
  • Maybe it doesn't compile. You can figure out why not! Google the errors, try out some C/C++ tutorials, and ask someone on Slack.
  • If and when you make a mistake, or otherwise show your stupidity, don't hesitate to acknowledge that you goofed. You're a noob and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

I'd like to hear others' takes on this, and other aspects of what makes a High-Quality Noob.
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