Let’s call it paddling instead

Only for a tiny fraction of the time does a surfer actually ‘surf’. For the most part, surfers paddle in the water while looking for a wave to catch. The surfing legend, Laird Hamilton, once quipped that we should call it paddling instead of surfing.

Hollywood often portrays computer programmers as nerds typing furiously on their keyboard, spitting out line after line of code that executes perfectly. In reality, a large chunk of a coder’s day is spent staring at a screen, either planning out an implementation approach or or getting a particular command to run. Besides, developers read 10 times more code than they write themselves. The furious typing, like surfing a wave’s crescent, is but a tiny fraction of what one does as a computer programmer.

Management consulting is sold as a profession where you are paid by the hour to solve problems. In reality, a consultant spends countless hours scouring the internet for data, interviewing their clients and perfecting a presentation to solve a problem whose solution is often obvious and banal. The brilliant insights are few and far apart.

Stand-up comedy is more about writing than about speaking in front of a crowd. A stand-up comic spends several days writing, rewriting and polishing their material before delivering a 10-minute sketch to tickle a crowd’s ribs.

At the end of this rant, here is the bottom line:

  • Aspirants beware – how a profession is popularly portrayed is entirely different from how it is practiced.

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