Lessons Programmers Can Learn From Stephen Hawking

Semblanza de Stephen Hawking

March 2018 was a grim month for the scientific community as it saw the loss of one of its brilliant and funniest minds. Stephen Hawking made discoveries and wrote serious theories, but off the books, he was funny as he was smart. Facing death from a very young age, he persevered and fought to live a life that was fulfilled and meaningful. His infectious personality ensures that not one person who met him didn’t like him.

Stephen Hawking is probably more famous for his disability instead of his mind, but that didn’t stop him from making some pretty epic discoveries. However, in this article, we will focus on teachings beyond that. We will go over 6 habits that programmers and developers should definitely follow.

1. “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Change is unavoidable and we should accept it and embrace it. The world around you is going to change, whether one wants it or not. Fighting the change only makes it much harder on the person and is a losing battle. Similarly, technology is constantly changing as well. So, the most important thing that a programmer can do is embrace it and change themselves rather than constantly fight the change. Programmers adapt to the newer technologies will be able to work alongside the new peers, while others might become outdated like the technology they are working on.

2. “My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”

Disability is something that is unpredictable and it is not something you can control. However, how much time you spend on worrying about your disability and lamenting over everything it is keeping you from doing is something that is within power. Stephen Hawking was only given 2 years to live when he was initially diagnosed; however, he didn’t let that stop him and survived. So, instead of simply focusing on things that you can’t do because you are disabled, focus on what you can. And, actually, do them. Don’t let your disability break your spirit.

3. “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

While some may say that “curiosity killed the cat”, for other it opened up new avenues. We’ve made so much progress as a society because of curiosity. If you are curious, you wonder and you ask questions and even look for answers. Even in the world of technology, you need to have that hunger and the driving force. You need to dig and dig until you find the answers you are looking for. But if you aren’t curious, you aren’t doing it right.

Stephen Hawking at Cern

4. “Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.”

An active mind is the sign of an intelligent person. A person who stops learning stops growing and this is why you should always keep your mind running and working. In addition to keeping yourself well-read and up to date, it also important to have a sense of humor. Hawking never shied away from his disability and instead made appearances on a number of different television programs always getting a good laugh out of his predicament. When you can laugh at your own troubles and shortcomings, it no longer limits you and instead, you can move past it. This is why one should always look at a situation with humor.

5. “It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward.”

Everyone gets stuck sometimes, and more hours you spend actively on a problem, the more difficult it becomes to solve them. However, the key here is not getting mad, impatient or furious. This does not help find the answers. It took Hawking 29 years to figure out his famous blackhole theorem. The best thing you can do is put the problem in the back of your mind and work on something else. You never know when inspiration strikes! So, keep your mind open.


6. “People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”

The last lesson is a general life lesson that pertains to everyone. People who always complain or are angry are not the best people to be around. These people spread their negativity and it’s really contagious. Try to see the silver lining in your life and you’ll how it changes for the better.

Although Stephen Hawking has physically passed away, he will continue to live on in this teachings and his work. These 6 life lessons are guaranteed to help you lead a healthier and better life. If you’ve been inspired by Hawking, go on and share your favorite Hawking moment in the comments section below!