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.