Pick a topic. Any topic. There is at least one highly detailed book on it in existence somewhere. Once upon a time I read a book on the history of shipping containers and it was amazing.

If I needed to pack up several tons of peanuts (the kind of thing I imagine people ship in boxes), I wouldn’t be able to do it. I don’t even know who the first people I would call would be. Like, do you just call Maersk and say “let’s move some peanuts, give me a quote?” How does this work?

Thankfully, on a day-to-day basis, shipping giant containers is not a requirement of my job. I have chosen to keep that level of logistics at a comfortable level of abstraction where the Internet is a portal into a giant black box where I type in what I need, press a big “Place Order” button, and a series of exchanges made by Other People manage how it gets there.

Yet there is some part of my work that needs a software engineer. It also needs a user experience researcher, an executive decision-maker, an educator, a writer, and fifteen other action-oriented words, responsibilities, and titles. Most jobs are like that.

I couldn’t be any good at my job if I had only read about building software, or studied user experience, or taken a teaching pedagogy course. I would be capable of learning a trade, but I would never have done it myself. I’d still be very junior.

There is no substitute for tinkering. Even if it’s your first try. Even if you screw it up. That is the only way we learn.