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    What a hockey legend can teach you about career development

    Say your boss gives you $1000 to grow your career. What do you do?

    That's what we talked about at an engineering growth lunch. A weekly get-together with the engineering team. It's like a mastermind. We talk about careers, web technologies, share things we learned, cool hacks we built, it's great. Best part of the week.

    So, $1000 for your career, what do you do?

    You go to a conference, you buy a book, you do a video course, you hire a coach, you attend a workshop, you get lost in the sea of options, you ...

    Ideas fly back and forth. Ideas fill the room. Ideas up to your ears. Everyone has plenty except our two most experienced engineers who are silent.

    "What do you want?"

    The young guys look at us, ears cocked.

    We can't tell you what to do with your $1000, if you don't know what you want.

    Conferences are great for seeing what's out there and chatting with smart people. Workshops are amazing for intense rapid learning on something specific. Video courses and books are spectacular at going in depth on a topic.

    So what do you want? Where do you want your career to go?

    They had never thought about that before.


    Skate where the puck is going

    Wayne Gretzky in his element
    Wayne Gretzky in his element

    Wayne Gretzky once said

    skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been

    What made Gretzky a legend so big even people like me who never watch sports know about him, is his uncanny ability to "consistently anticipate where the puck was going to be and executing the right move at the right time"[1].

    Think about it.

    The puck is moving. Flying. By the time you get there, you're too late.

    You gotta skate to where the puck is going to be. You can catch it when it gets there. 🏑

    Same goes for your career. And your skills.

    To have a successful career, you gotta move where the industry is going. Not where it's been in the past. What you see right now, that's already the past.

    The web moves fast.

    From a sea of options, how do you choose

    Ever heard of the adjacent possible?

    It's the idea that technology, biology, life in general, and your career develops around its edges. When you gain a new skill, invent a new tool, or pay off your loans, you expand your adjacent possible.

    You push out the edge and reach further into the world. More ideas become possible, more opportunities show up. All because you're in a better position to both see and use them.

    I like to think of it as a stochastic search problem. Multivariate optimization if you will.

    There's a lot that goes into a good career. And it's different for everyone.

    How much money are you making? Are you enjoying it? Are you working with tech you like? Are you helping the world? Are you happy?

    The solution is always the same. It looks like this 👇

    You look around and identify the tallest hill you can see.

    What's the hottest most sought-after technology right now? What looks like it's coming up fast? What problem are you most excited to solve? What gets your fire going?

    Go for it.

    Climb until you reach the top. Until your progress starts to slow. When you aren't learning and growing, that's when you've reached the top.

    You now have a better vantage point. You see further and wider. You have more experience. Your adjacent possible is broader.

    Look around, identify tallest hill, go for it.


    Skate where the puck is going my friend

    Where do you want to skate your career? at me 👇

    Happy skating,

    Published on May 9th, 2019 in Opinions, SeniorMindset

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