trueskill's blog

By trueskill, 13 months ago, In English

Time's up.

As many of you had predicted, the "mission to reach Red in 6 months and LGM in 12 months" was as ambitious as it was unsuccessful. I won't be having the "last laugh" and that wasn't even the right way to go about this whole thing. I started the year strong but things fell off track after January. There were some productive weeks throughout the course of the year but I failed to remind myself to keep on going in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge. And yet, I owe it to myself to keep the dream alive and make a proper update that better represents my intentions after a year of reflection. The road to LGM is full of self-doubts and failures no matter how embarrassing or self-sabotaging they may be, but all that crap needs to be thrown right out the window in order to become one. This is just one of those moments.

There is nothing wrong in wanting to become LGM but there is a price to pay for such an esteemed and elusive title held by so few members of this community. Some of you might say "don't focus on the title or rating, just solve problems, first reach expert/master", but that's not true. Many people solve thousands of problems and never make it to LGM, or even worse, hit a plateau far below LGM as early as master or even expert. Therefore, "just solve problems" is not the right answer. There has to be a deeper psychological element to it — one must want it more than anything else in this world AND do whatever it takes to get there. I failed to tick both boxes. No excuses.

A more dangerous suggestion that seems to be floating around these days is to accept that your life has already been determined, and that LGM represents the top 0.1% so it's not worth the effort for a newbie/pupil/(insert other rank) who has no idea what they are talking about since it's an improbable scenario. These are spouted by the same people who tend to make "optimal" decisions in favor of probability while shrugging off any ludicrous notions of some dreamland possibility. That might get you an AC in your CP problem, but the "striving" to become LGM should be seen as a possibility, not a probability.

There is very little we know about the limits of the human mind and it is quite arrogant to not only claim that one can "reach LGM in 12 months" (referring to myself), but also the other way around — to deny that one can never approach the level of "gods" who crossed the magical 3000 barrier. These types of conversations serve no purpose other than to create and maintain a religious fan-following that will never attempt to take on the hierarchy, thereby forever accepting it as a static reality and one's own life as a doomed destiny.

Never settle. If you are truly honest with yourself, there is always something you have swept underneath the rug that has been holding you back from improving. Okay, maybe you just want to have fun and are happy with your rating. But I'm sorry, that's just another load of crap. At best, it's a trap of the mind to stay within the domain of what's familiar and comfortable. Challenge yourself further because there is always something to work on. There is a saying — "Don't follow the footsteps of great men, seek what they sought". Take all the inspiration you need from the Petrs, the tourists, the Um_niks, the ecnerwals, but also be sure to give them back the greatest honor — competing directly at the highest level because this is "competitive" programming.

I have learned why I failed, and my quest to become LGM continues without a shread of doubt. I hope yours does too.

(I removed the original post because while it was a fiery and ambitious rant, it is not representative of who I am today. I still have the same goal as stated in that post but the intention and mindset surrounding the pursuit have evolved and matured over the course of a year.)

 
 
 
 
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13 months ago, # |
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Note that...

I am not competing against anyone

Because the sum of rating does not increase after each contest, you need to get into the top 10~20 to reach LGM, which is competing by definition.

So, if it doesn't work for you, you can look for some more realistic target.

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    13 months ago, # ^ |
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    Thanks for your comment. Perhaps I should have worded it differently. I meant that I wasn't competing against anyone personally or for the need to "beat" someone. Because that sort of mentality of trying to "beat" someone would probably just hinder anyone's progress, even the top-rated coders. Instead I think it's more valuable to focus on where I currently am, what topics I need to master, solving more difficult problems, etc. and eventually if I solve enough difficult problems consistently, I don't see why LGM is not within reach.

    But yes, I agree with what you are saying. Ultimately, it's a number's game and I will have to technically beat many other competitors consistenly (including LGM's) by solving more problems than them to increase my rating. Although I will consider that more of a personal victory rather than competing against them. Because either I solve the problem or I don't.

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13 months ago, # |
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Slow and steady wins the race, my friend. Don't be like the hare. : )

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    13 months ago, # ^ |
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    That's an outdated feel-good story buddy :) Slow and steady doesn't win contests. And I don't think 6-12 months is a short amount of time though. One can easily solve 1000-2000 problems in a year.

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    13 months ago, # ^ |
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    Fast and not sleepin' sounds better than slow and steady.

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13 months ago, # |
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Are you going to spend all your time entirely on CP? If no, I really doubt it's possible to consider this blog seriously, if yes, then it feels like it's a bit wrong thing to do...

I believe that the goal is achievable if you are super smart + super motivated + give all your free time to doing CP, but I don't believe that it's possible to stay motivated for so long...

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    13 months ago, # ^ |
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    Thanks for your realistic advice and heads-up. I really appreciate it. As crazy as it sounds, I do intend to fully commit myself but I am well aware that I may end up burning out. I will try to balance my day with enough sleep, exercise, hydration, and a couple hours of relaxation so that I don't overtrain. Like I mentioned, I am currently on leave so I have the next few years all to myself (I don't think I will head back until Fall 2021 the latest) and I have given this plenty of thought. I know it's difficult to consider these types of posts seriously because anyone can make these claims when the idealism is high in the early stages. You are totally right in that it doesn't take long for motivation to begin to wane. But I intend to stick with it and see how far I can take it, hopefully all the way. It is good to know that you being someone with experience believe there's a slight chance it might be possible given the right combination of those three elements. I believe I have a little bit of the first and enough of the latter two.

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10 months ago, # |
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I like your way of thinking, very positive and empowering, but those guys they did not come to codeforces newbies. They had already a background from other websites or from mathematics. Anyway keep believing in yourself just don't forget to train.

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9 months ago, # |
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I'm watching you, bro. When I saw ur blog months ago it was very inspirational. I thought u were going to practice super hard cause I knew a crazy guy who did 10-15 hard problems everyday and became IGM in 1 year. You said u were going to be LGM. I was like, okay, this guy must be super motivated. He's probably going to do 20-25 hard problems per day. But you are still here with just 1 contest participation and haven't submit any problems for months.

Just another disappointing talker...

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8 months ago, # |
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It seems like you should be red by now...It's been 6 months. I mean...

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    7 months ago, # ^ |
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    I'm glad that at least someone took my post seriously because it was written seriously and meant to be taken seriously. On that note, I have done a disservice by disapppointing you with my lackluster progress, but I hope this doesn't stop you from reaching red. I can sense you have the drive as well otherwise you wouldn't be upset at "a random stranger making claims to reach red only to end up fooling everyone".

    It's no secret that I have failed miserably on backing up my bold assertions so far. Clearly, I underestimated the challenge and am nowhere near being red, let alone LGM (yes, that is still on my radar). It's been disappointing, painful, and frustrating looking back on these past six months — these are natural feelings that set in when one goes back on their word. And this is exactly when many people give in to their emotions and quit. I am not one of them because I understand that to err is human. I forgive myself and I am ready to start anew.

    So don't feel duped just yet and feel free to continue checking in if that keeps you motivated as well. I am not running away anytime soon or opening another account just because I have "stained" this one with a bad reputation. The first half of the "mission" only went sideways so the game is still very much alive to be won by the end of the year. Only then will all the talk and downvotes, skepticism and setbacks, feel like nothing at all and everything to laugh about.