You must try, and then you must ask

When you become stuck on a problem, you must try for another ~15 minutes, and then you must ask. Document what you try. It becomes a guide that may lead you to the answer, and if not, it will certainly lead to a better question.

The temptation to immediately ask an expert is tantalizing — but resist! If you first try, then ask, you gain things: Trust, Knowledge, and Skill.

Trust, because the experts see that you’ve tried, and you have documents showing what you’ve tried. You’ll also earn trust from questions unasked — others will discover what you’ve solved without help.

Knowledge, because some of the time in that ~15 minute buffer, you will find the answer yourself. Knowledge gained by trial can often be stronger than knowledge from tutelage. Sometimes, you will even learn something that no one else knows. This is one of the greatest feelings. And frequently incredibly fruitful.

Skill, because you will learn how to better learn. You will learn other things that you weren’t trying to. The 15 minute buffer might get smaller and smaller until it’s only a matter of a few minutes.

After all, an expert earns their place by trying a lot. Any sufficiently advanced form of expertise should look similar to trying a lot — and failing a lot. The best experts become intimate with this feeling. They may even revel in it. Accept the discomfort, learn to embrace it, and good things follow.

You must try, and then you must ask. (inspiration)