Lessons Learned From Expanding My Personal Capacity

In August last year I wrote about expanding my personal capacity. I wrote about how – for about two years – I didn’t take new challenges and just kept doing what I had been doing. As a result, I didn’t expand my capacity.

Of course, that’s not a good situation to be in. So, realizing that, I began to work on a new challenge. I’ve been working on it since then and by now I’ve been working on it for several months.

What I didn’t tell you was what the challenge is. Well, now I’m ready to tell you about it 🙂

My New Challenge

As you might know from my About page, I have a background in computer science. Coding is one of my passions. However, I had been neglecting that passion for years and pursued my other passions instead. I still worked as a lecturer in information technology but there was nothing else I did. I didn’t have any project nor learn new technologies. In short, I just left my coding potential unused.

Realizing this led me to write about discovering your idle potential. Coding was the one for me so I decided to do something with it.

After exploring a few options, I eventually decided to get into application development for the iPhone. I love the iPhone (although what I actually have is an iPod touch) and I love mobile application development. While I needed to make some sacrifices (like having to buy a Mac; I couldn’t use my Windows machine for it), I find the challenge exciting.

Lessons Learned

So here I am, doing application development for the iPhone.

After working on it for a few months, in April I eventually published my first app on the App Store. I’m not ready yet to talk about the app here, but I’d like to share with you the lessons I’ve learned so far. I hope you will find these lessons useful for working on your own challenge.

1. Choose something you are passionate about

I know I’ve talked about it over and over again on this blog. But there’s a good reason for that: passion does make a difference. The journey to success is long and difficult. If you’re not passionate about the process then you might not be able to go through it.

In my case, it wasn’t easy for me to learn to code for the iPhone, let alone building a successful business around it (something I’m still struggling with). But the passion sustains me in the process.

2. There is a price to pay for success

Success doesn’t come cheap. There is a price to pay for it and you must be willing to pay it. Perhaps that means spending a lot of time to learn a new skill. Perhaps that means sacrificing some of the activities you enjoy.  Whatever it is, you must be willing to pay the price if you want to be successful.

3. The race is a marathon, not a sprint

Understanding this principle could make the difference between a victory (albeit taking a long time) and a defeat.

Some people want an overnight success, but there is no such thing as an overnight success. One of the most successful apps for the iPhone is Angry Birds. It might seem like an overnight success, but the truth is that Rovio (the developer) had worked on mobile game development since 2003. When Angry Birds got popular in 2010, the “overnight” success already had seven years of effort behind it!

So, whatever you want to achieve, be prepared for a long journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Those who endure will win.

4. Learn from the best players

If you want to be successful, learn from those who have been successful before you. Why should you waste time figuring things out by yourself when someone else has? Learning from the best players in your field will save you a lot of time in the process.

In my case, I learn from the successful apps out there. When I have spare time, I often play with them. What makes them successful? What can I learn from them? It takes time for me to “get it” and I’m not there yet, but I believe I will.

5. Get into the real world as soon as possible

Real-world experience can teach you more than the best books can. So whatever you do, try to get into the real world as soon as you can.

I made a mistake here by reading and thinking too much rather than getting something out there as soon as possible. Now that I have an app on the App Store, I can really feel the market. I can taste the dynamics of the market, not from what other people say, but from my own experience. There’s a big difference between them.


My journey in the app development world really expands my capacity. I love it though there is still a long way to go for me.

What about you? What challenge do you take and how do you work on it?

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Photo by iane machado


  1. That’s great. We are working on an app as well, so it’s been an interesting journey for me as well.

    It’s good to see you come back to a passion of yours and what a great lesson for all of us.

  2. That’s awesome that you are branching out into new territories.

    I look at people who were not born rich, but rather created their success through their passion.

    I’m a big fan of the TV show SharkTank. Every shark on their used their passion to build their financial empire.

  3. Hi Donald, I really enjoyed your post and all the common sense behind it.

    You are so right that success does take work… and it can take a while.

    I have always been a firm believer in the law of compensation. I believe if you are passionate (as you have said) and work diligently and steadily toward your goal, eventually all of your efforts will show results.

    I am pleased you are working toward you passion.

    I wish you the best of luck, and while I am not very techy, I am curious as to the details of your App… I will keep an eye on you for when you are ready!! 😉

    best regards


    • Thanks Jayne! Success does seem to be an inevitable consequence of all the positive factors you mention. It might not happen in our time frame, but I believe it will happen.
      Sure, I will definitely give you more details about it when I’m ready 🙂

  4. I’m in a similar position, I’ve done mostly computer support for a while and no coding. What resources did you find most useful when starting to develop an iPhone app?

  5. donald, thanks for the insight on you experience. It’s true that actually application teaches way more than virtual application (aka reading about someone else’s application). I’m on a similar journey, though not in app world.

  6. Inspiring post, Donald. Timeless lesson: get in the real world, start failing, and learn from the experience. When I follow that lesson, it always leads to growth, when I ignore it, it leads to pain. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Thank you for an excellent post, Donald!

    There’s one thing that you’ve not mentioned in your post, but I know that you have it, and that is, ‘vision’. Would it be okay to ask what your vision for this app is (money, fame, personal satisfaction)? As you’ve said, what’s involved is a marathon, and we need a vision to sustain us as we run this endurance race.

    Wishing you every success with your endeavour


    • That’s a good question, Jehangir.

      My vision is to reach my full potential, which I think is an important part of living life to the fullest. The way to reach my full potential is to keep expanding my capacity. And the way to expand my capacity, for now, is building apps.

      Thanks for the wishes. I wish you success too!

  8. Donald: Congrats on your App. I am sure you put a lot of time and effort into it. I think it is so great that you pushed yourself to go after this challenge. I agree with your message in this post and think it is something we should all realize and try to do. It is so important to go after things and to learn and grow in life. If we are just sitting back and doing the same old same old, we will never know our real potential. Great post and message.

    • Thanks, Sibyl! I did put a lot of effort into it but it was a great learning experience. I agree with you that we need to challenge ourselves to know our real potential.

  9. Hi Donald,

    It’s my first time dropping by your blog authority. I really like you post and Congratulations on the New App.

    I am actually getting out in the real world now. Looking for a job to sustain my needs while I work on growing my passion (which is blog and creating several businesses).

    In my opinion, passion is what separates mediocrity and excellence. With passion we can pour out everything we have but without it we only settle for mediocrity.

    This why some live just to live, it’s because they are not doing what they are passionate about.

    • Armand, thanks for stopping by! Your comment reminds me of a book entitled Pour Your Heart Into It about the story of Starbucks. Passion does make a difference.
      Good luck for your journey in the real world! I’m sure you can make it.

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