Low Frustration Tolerance: Curse and Blessing

There's a psychicologicalous condition known as 'Low Frustration Tolerance', (LFT for short... abbreviations, btw, are helpful for those with LFT ;-))

Low. Frustration. Tolerance. I am writing slowly. Just to frustrate the Living Hell out of those who have LFT.

Every day you will see examples of people with Low Frustration Tolerance. You know these people.

You're in your car, stopped at the lights. Light turns green, and before you've put your foot on the accelerator, the guy behind you blares on his horn. Hard. He's got LFT. Bet on it.

To be a programmer REQUIRES a ^^high^^ level of frustration tolerance. Most people with LFT, on the other hand (OTOH ;->) end up as drunks, hobos, drop outs, early-deaths, burn-outs.

(But stick around -- there is a twist.)

So, the only way to be a decent programmer, able to produce good output every single day is to have a high-frustration-tolerance.

The amount of frustration we encounter in the computing world, every single day, is just astounding. Many days our job consists of leaping one hurdle after another.

Sometimes, just for fun, I keep a little log of the hurdles I encounter in a day. They are numerous.

I want to get from A to B. Step A: Something goes wrong. I investigate. Dead end. I google it. Dead end. I check logs. Dead end. I increase logging. More evidence. I google that. Dead end. I download a tool that will get more info. Tool fails to install. I google the installation failure. Dead end. I look for another tool, install that, run it: crashes. I investigate the crash. Dead end. I find a different tool, install that. Get more info. Investigate that. Dead end. Google it. Dead end. Stack overflow it: dead end. Drink coffee, consider taking up smoking. Dead end. Wait two weeks, increase bounty at stack overflow. Dead end. Reboot, check patch level, look for random hints from astrological tables, listen to reggae... dread end. Sometime later, randomly: breakthrough. And on step B.

Annnyway, I've established the first point: a good career in programming requires High Frustration Tolerance.

And yet... I am utterly convinced, that the only way to succeed as a programmer is to have really LOW frustration tolerance.

You have to get fired up by tiny little things. You have to care, dammit, and care deeply, about tiny little points.

You have to pour your heart and your soul into accepting nothing but perfection from that damn regular expression, that damn CSS selector, that damn SQL case statement, that bloody mother f***ing a*****e of a *** **** son of a ******* ugly ***** ***** **** of a **** installation package, so the lucky ******* **** of an end user gets all the joy of a working system.

It's a catch 22.

And sometimes we forget that *both* skills are needed. We fall into the trap of being one or the other.

So here's my latest plea:

Stopping being so easily frustrated. And please, stop settling for second best.

And then: tell me how it's done.


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