Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, speaks in a TED talk on the importance of teaching girls to be brave. She recalls the bravery it took her to run for Congress, and the courage to survive the failure. Boys have been habituated to take risks. “We’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave,” says Reshma.
She explains the correlation between learning to code and bravery. To code, “it requires imperfection, it requires perseverance.”
Before hearing these thoughts from Reshma, I hadn’t recognized the life skill of bravery I learned through coding. I get the painstaking perseverance it takes, because after coding for more than seventeen years (wow has it been that long!?) I still find that there is something new to learn and I recognize the ease of the breaking the code through just one character being out of place! This skill of bravery can be learned in many ways. With drawing, it takes practice and patience. At first, you get a rough sketch down on paper and then you assess how it looks, if it looks wrong you correct it, and if it looks right then you continue on that path. I clearly remember the feeling of wanting to give up, on many occasions, when looking at that first part of the sketch and thinking that it wasn’t working. But after I experienced being able to turn that not so great sketch into something closer to what I wanted to achieve, I learned that whenever I thought it wasn’t working, that the potential for success still was possible.
The problem with perfection is, that it can be a barrier. You may try but feel as if you are failing and then give up. Or, you may actually fail and then never try again. When we realise that failure can be part of the process, then it changes the expectation and reduces the pressure.
I remember reading an autobiography on Richard Branson. He shares his experience of being on the brink of failure with his business, with the debt collector banging at his door, and being able to keep going. That lesson taught me that even with the seemingly most dire situation, it is possible to turn it around and achieve success.
Reshma’s final words of instruction are beautiful and poignant: “tell every young woman you know .. to be comfortable with imperfection. Because when we teach girls to be imperfect, and we help them leverage it, we will build a movement of young women who are brave and who will build a better world for themselves and each and every one of us.”
So, be brave and persevere with imperfection, and enjoy the process as best as you can.
Be the change you wish to see in the world
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