“You seem Zen. Do you meditate?”. We were in a bar having a catch up drink before Christmas. We hadn’t spoken for a year, but we’ve been friends for a long time. I didn’t think much of the comment at the time. But since I’ve had the chance to think about it some more. It has been a while since I’ve last meditated (even though I should do it more…). But the “zen” part has been a deliberate practice. Well, I wouldn’t call it Zen. I’d call it focus and it’s something that I spent most of 2017 trying to cultivate. There’s a Hemingway quote that’s stuck with throughout this year.
By rewriting your concerns as questions you move from anxiety to curiosity.
This is a paraphrased quote from the book Sprint. Author Jake Knapp is talking about gathering a list of “what could go wrongs” on a project as part of a design Sprint. Knapp is tapping into the elephant in the room and testing the worst case scenarios. But rather than listing them as statements, Jake says to list them as questions. “If we don’t get our customer to understand X we’ll fail” becomes “How can we encourage the user to understand X?”.
I’ve been lucky in my brief career to have worked in a range of environments. From small startups to enterprises and large government projects. Along the way I’ve learnt a few things about making career progress, but staying sane along the way. Somewhat sane, that is …
Most problems have happened before. If we search back in history far enough, we’ll find someone overcoming a problem we now have. Stoic philosophy (Stoicism), when studied can give us many of the answers to problems we already face. I am only a beginner when it comes to Stoicism. But I’ve already had benefits leveraging some of the learnings from their teachings.
Rather than spending your time reading the works and figuring out how they apply to you. I’ve distilled 5 of the top lessons, from the perspective of a software developer.
My journey with Platform all started a few years ago when I read Key Person of Influence. It ultimately prompted my intrigue with writing. Blown away by the ideas in this book I had to dig deeper. This is when I discovered books talking about similar concepts:
I recommend them all.
The concept of Platform can apply to every type of software developer career. It doesn’t matter if you: want to work full time, start a business or go into management … The concepts of Platform apply no matter your career vision.
I’ve been recently pushing myself to improve certain knowledge gaps. Whilst thinking about how to tackle the problem I ended up posing myself a question:
When have I made the biggest learning improvements in the past? How did I do it? And can I repeat that process?
The answer took me back to when I was a student …it was when I read non-fiction. a lot.
For developers, portfolios have become more commonplace. Which in itself is a wonderful thing. It’s a great tool to showcase your work and your passion. I even believe it’s one of the best investments you can make as a developer. Especially if you’re starting out. But, I made a mistake when I created mine years ago. I wish I could go back and do things again. Because there is something that I’d change.
If you want to step up your developer career you might be considering creating a portfolio. If you are, bravo! Having a portfolio immediately puts you ahead of the curve. So, you sit down with a coffee in hand and debate the best ways to create your website and a thought crosses your mind:
Do I create my portfolio in code, or do I use a template?
This question came up recently on a front end developer forum. The answers that emerged were short and shallow. Did they answer the question? Yes. Will they help the developer get hired? I’m not so sure.
The rules are changing. Especially for knowledge workers like software developers. It’s impacting how we should craft our careers. The opportunities and the tools we have are different to the years before. Writing platforms are one of these big shifts. We have the ability to share our ideas with large audiences. It’s simpler than ever. Mainstream media influence is yielding to the power of individual influencers. Only a handful of developers will identify this opportunity. Even less act on it.
If you insist on playing todays games by yesterdays rules, you’re stuck – Seth Godin, Tribes.
A water-tight career strategy for your personal brand is your most important asset. Having one will:
Guide your decision making
Lead you closer to fulfilment
Create more purpose in your work
It also puts the power back in your hands. You can write blogs, speak at talks, read books – these are all activities well within your power. With so much choice, how you spend your time has never been more important.