Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

Senior Mindset Book

Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companies

Senior Engineer Mindset cover
Learn more

    Trust your wings, not the market

    They say a bird doesn't trust the branch, she trusts her wings. I love that saying.

    To me it means that no matter how much you lean on others, you trust yourself when the branch breaks. Your confidence doesn't come from standing on an unbreakable branch, it comes from knowing you've got this no matter what.

    A job can vanish any moment. A project can be cancelled. Teams get reshuffled. Markets change and demand for your skills shifts. The hype moves on and you're left holding the bag.

    All these things are normal. I've been around long enough to see at least 6 hype cycles first hand. They each felt like the end of the world.

    But if you look at a graph of my career, you'd never notice. Every year brings bigger better challenges, more impactful projects, and higher incomes.

    Last 10 years of Swiz's income
    Last 10 years of Swiz's income

    You can see the covid dip when my infoproduct business took a huge hit. That was fun 😅

    So, how do you build a resilient career and trust your wings? Here's a few tips I follow.

    Start with a vision

    First, you need a vision. What do you want?

    A career that follows every whim, opportunity, and disappointment doesn't get far. Keeps circling around the start point.

    Career without vision

    But add a dash of vision, a small chance to make choices towards a goal, and look what happens.

    Career with vision

    The walk goes far! 😍

    It's not a straight line, life doesn't work that way, but you get somewhere. Where that is, you have to decide for yourself. Once you do, everything else becomes easier.

    Rather than being thrown around by the storm, you can make choices based on how they fit your vision.

    Think like a business

    Second, approach your job like a business. You're there to provide value in exchange for money.

    You don't have to be a complete mercenary about it – enjoy time with your team and build the camaradeire, but never forget that work is a business transaction. You are paid for the value you bring and nothing more.

    Value here means business value. The business thinks like this: "If we give $X to you, how much money falls out?". The ROI may be immediate, if the business is profitable, or in terms of improving fund-raising success and future profits, if you're a startup.

    The company pays for that value with money and other benefits like opportunity, brand, fun, and interesting challenges. But it's your job to make sure the ROI makes sense for you.

    Sell your brains, not your hands

    Third, think about leverage. What can you bring to the table that isn't just you doing the work?

    Engineers are worth so much because we build assets. Invest in the code once and it keeps doing your job for years 😍

    That's leverage. You do many hours worth of work with an hour of writing code.

    Being a senior engineer and an expert in your field unlocks another source of leverage: Owning projects and being responsible for their delivery.

    Force multiplying the team around you with experience, advice, and clearing blockers means you achieve way more than you ever could yourself.

    Senior Mindset Audiobook sample
    Senior Mindset Audiobook sample

    Own your career

    Pick a niche, kick ass, solve expensive problems. That approach works in any economy and every hype cycle. Trust your wings.


    Published on September 13th, 2023 in Career, Mindset

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Continue reading about Trust your wings, not the market

    Semantically similar articles hand-picked by GPT-4

    Senior Mindset Book

    Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companies

    Learn more

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️