This is a post I've been wanting to write since I started this blog, so buckle your seatbelts, it's a doozy.
I'm a Software Engineer by trade. I never completed college(or even got close). In fact, I've never had a computer class in my life. I learned at a young age that traditional schooling just wasn't for me. I'd spend all of my free time teaching myself things at home, or outright skipping school and hitting the library for the day where I'd read things from art theory all the way to classical mechanics. At the time I wanted to be an artist. I found myself doodling in class constantly, and the tests I turned in were covered with my artwork. Some of my teachers loved that, but most didn't. I was indifferent.
At the time I had an account on an online art community: sheezyart.com. SArt was an awesome place at the time, and had a great, thriving community of amateur animators. Everyone was very supportive of each other, and it was a great environment to improve yourself. Though, sometime in 2008 things started to noticeably go downhill. The moderatorship became corrupt, and because it wasn't a commercial venture, the owner had no real incintive to fix things. In fact, he'd all but left the community entirely, letting the leftover moderators battle amongst themselves. Bugs accumulated in the codebase, really good users were banned for ludicrous reasons, and the community started to fall apart.
When I was fourteen I was enamored with two things: animation and building an animation community. I browsed the Newgrounds programming board constantly, sapping up as much good information as I could. I wanted to make the next newgrounds.com. Little did I know, this teenage fascination would turn out to be the most important thing I could've done with my life at that time.
On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL
Jason Shen has achieved tremendous success in athletics, technology entrepreneurship, writing, and living an outstanding life. To promote his recent GiveGetWin deal on The Science of Willpower, he sat down to tell us how he started learning about willpower, the state of what's known scientifically about how willpower and the brain work, and how you can start improving your life right away by implementing a tiny habit, thinking and systems, and using some powerful thinking tools. Enjoy:
Developing Willpower by Jason Shen, as told to Sebastian Marshall
Willpower has been an undercurrent in my entire life. In gymnastics, you have to use your willpower to overcome your fear of an activity and go for the skill you want, to get over the fear, to push yourself to finish your conditioning and strength training a part of you doesn't want to…
It didn't come automatically to me. When I was a student, I wasn't automatically self-disciplined. There were actions I knew were useful, like doing my homework in one session without getting distracted, or not throwing clothing on my apartment floor. But I wouldn't always do them, and I didn't know why.
I started to learn those answers during a student initiative course at Stanford called The Psychology of Personal Change. That's when I first started reading academic papers on the topic. In academia, willpower and self-discipline is often called "self-regulation," and in 2009 I started to get really serious about it from an academic perspective -- and saw gains from it in my personal life.