From “Deep Work” by Cal Newport

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Any pursuit, be it physical or cognative, that supports high levels of skill can also generate a sense of sacredness. To elaborate this point let’s jump from the old fashion examples of carving wood or smithing metals to the modern example of computer programming. Consider this quote from the coding prodigy Santiago Gonzales describing his work to an interviewer: “Beautiful code is short and concise so if you were to give that code to another programmer he would say ‘Oh, that’s well written code.’ It’s much like as if you were writing a poem.” […] “The Pragmatic Programmer”, a well regarded book in the computer programming field makes this connection between code and old style craftsmanship more directly by quoting the medieval quarry workers creed “We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals.” The book then elaborates that computer programmers must see their work in the same way. Within the overall structure of a project, there is always room for individuality and craftsmanship. […] You don’t, in other words, need to be toiling in an open air barn for your efforts to be considered the type of craftsmanship that can generate […] meaning. […] Throughout most of human history to be a blacksmith or a wheelwright wasn’t glamorous. But this doesn’t matter, as the specifics of the work are irrelevant. The meaning uncovered by such efforts is due to the skill and appreciation inherent in craftsmanship, not the outcomes of their work. Put another way a wooden wheel is not noble but its shaping can be. The same applies to knowledge work. You don’t need a rarefied job, you need instead a rarefied approach to your work.

by Cal Newport, from Deep Work


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