The tech industry, especially the security industry, seems outrageously overwhelming to newcomers and even as an intermediate “InfoSec Pro” there seems to be an overwhelming number of paths and topics one can focus on. The problem most of us, especially newcomers, encounter is that we don’t know what to focus on. Even when we find a topic to focus on, we seem to get stuck in the vast pool of resources that are available to us.
Take the GitHub repository Awesome Hacking (highly recommended), for example. Many people are aware of its existence. The very same people are sending me messages and asking where to start and how to not be totally overwhelmed by what seems to be a structured collection of valuable resources but doesn’t seem to solve our problem. But what exactly is our problem? It’s certainly not the lack of resources. Why is it, that although we have access to all the resources we need for developing a new skill, we fail to do so, even if we have the time or could rearrange our schedule to make time for it? Perhaps we have forgotten that the distractions we face on a daily basis prevent us from performing to the best of our abilities.
We all know this feeling when we want to learn something new. We wait until motivation strikes us out of nowhere, then we tinker around for a few hours without a clear direction, checking notifications, and as soon as we realize that we’re not getting anywhere, we get discouraged and give up. Side note: if you wait for motivation, you’re doing it wrong. The formula to induce motivation, in my experience, starts with action, which sparks inspiration, which sparks motivation, which leads to action, and the loop continues.
We also know and have experienced the feeling of flow. The moment when you’re fully focused on a task. You lose all sense of time, and everything seems to flow effortlessly; you forget everything around you and have a feeling of control over the task. This rewarding feeling of flow is best described by Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: