I didn’t have a good understanding of careers until taking an interest in Mixed Martial Arts. Competing against one another, a fighter with only one exceptional skill will typically be defeated by a well rounded fighter with average skills and no glaring weaknesses exploiting holes in the one dimensional opponent.
In only takes a few years for some talented and hard working prospects
to become excellent by cultivating skills they previously lacked,
gradually tying them together into a fearsome technical arsenal.
Nearly everyone fails to pursue specific goals for a purpose
needed to deliberately cultivate excellence. Instead, they randomly
bumble around and produce the minimal for whatever task has been asked
of them, never considering the shoddy quality and general ignorance
they are delivering. They fall back upon thoughtless solutions that
have been close enough before rather than using methods that are
known to work well.
Even professionals merely take on projects with little notion of what
they are a building themselves into being. They casually accept their
weaknesses as something normal instead of using the feedback to gain
skills that could help eliminate obvious deficiencies.
You don’t become a high level fighter by practicing random techniques.
By studying your own fights you recognize what was lacking, for example
needing a defensive technique like a Muay Thai knee to counter aggressors
rushing in. This approach is both positive and negative, identifying opportunities not previously available because abilities were lacking, and to prevent exploitation when techniques were not well established.
While it is brave to simply show up to a fight and give it your all, this
is ultimately a losing practice in a skilled environment. A strategy is
needed not only for a particular fight, but for one’s career and the
development of skills to being competitive at the highest level.
My friends in IT were wild. Many started small businesses, took jobs in
consulting, or worked for start ups. They had solid skills in whatever
they do and earned good income, but didn’t develop careers. They
probably never thought about it, as we all just kept busy working on
what we knew, stringing that thoughtless approach along year after year
for a few decades.
We were a bunch of savages gathering random parts collected haphazardly
rather than planning to craft greatness.
Maybe that’s good enough to do for a few more decades, never having to confront the prospect of a career.