The Sweat Lodge / by Nate Westheimer

This past weekend was my re-birthday, marking the one year anniversary of leaving the "Sweat Lodge" -- the first step on my important journey of becoming an engineer. Anyway, I need to get back to some pretty sophisticated engineering problem, but I thought I'd acknowledge the anniversary and repost the "Sweat Lodge" section of The Hope Manifesto:

The first key to learning anything is real commitment. How many people have taken years of Spanish classes but can’t speak a word? Meanwhile, we all know people who studied abroad and immersed themselves for a few weeks and came away with the ability to communicate freely (though perhaps difficultly).

Learning to code is no different. If you think you can learn how to code by going to a few classes, being “taught” or sitting down for an hour or so every so often, you’re 100% wrong and will waste your time. If you truly want to learn how to code (or learn any other new skill, for that matter) you must find some serious time to dedicate to the cause. And the cause is teaching yourself, not being taught.

I call this The Sweat Lodge.

When I left AnyClip, I spent a few weeks playing around with online tutorials and reading books about coding. Not surprisingly, I felt like I was as much of a NoPE after a few weeks of this as I did when I began.

My real education started the second to last week of October, when I took five days of my life and commited myself to Change.

For five straight days, I sat at my desk, from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, and obsessed over my education. I barely showered. I ate at my desk. I obsessed.

I went into my personal Sweat Lodge a NoPE and emerged a HoPE. Did I have all the answers? No. In the weeks and months that followed that week, I’ve learned a huge amount more than what I learned in that week.

But in that week, I taught myself the most important, foundational lessons that allowed me to emerge a new person: the skill of self-sustenance.

So this is your first test: Are you willing to commit to The Sweat Lodge? Are you willing to take 5 days — at least! — of your life to go through mental hell? Do you really want to code or are you just saying you do?