I am a self made man. What I’ve learned, I’ve learned by doing.
While learning something new, you often find yourself problem solving. You try to implement what you’ve learned, but something goes wrong. The practice of problem solving at it’s core is very simple: isolate your issue, determine what the problem is, provide a solution and try again. Learning in it’s very nature is fundamentally tied to problem solving.
Of course, having to solve a problem implicitly implies failure at some level. We have our fail early and fail often mantra, but outside of the startup world, failure is seen as a negative. No one wants to be a failure, of course. But when you’re learning something, failure is almost a prerequisite. When you fail, you solidify that memory in your mind and use it to guide your future steps.
Perhaps the most important result of problem solving, due to failure, is confidence. Confidence that you can learn anything you want. That you can be anything you want. I didn’t go to school to be a web designer. I didn’t take a single course on programming. I didn’t have a piece of paper telling me that I could do this. But I did have one thing, I had the confidence that I could do it. And so I did.