Lately, I’ve been asking myself if my current work role is really the best use of my talents. But shortly into wondering about the answer to this question, I had formed an even more important question: What exactly do I consider the best use of my talents. So, here, for better or worse, is where I think the best use of my talents lies…
First and foremost, I’m a hacker type through and through. A work day in which I am not writing code is a terrible day for me. A work day in which I write a little code is a terrible day for me. A workday where I am heads down, balls to the wall buried in code and completely oblivious to the passage of time. Ding! Awesome day. What’s even better about those kind of days is that when I’m in the zone like that (Interface Designers call it “Flow”) I am disgustingly prolific. I mean oodles and oodles of code being churned out. That’s a win for not just me, but the company for which I am working.
Next, I am a very creative person. This means I get strength and energy from creative outlets. I am not going to be your go to guy to write that piece of software for which you have painstakingly provide pages and pages of detailed specification. No, I’m the kind of guy you come up to and say, “Hey, I had a friggin awesome idea, can you whip something together for me to test the idea out?” I will take your crazy ass idea and run with it. Now, the result here can be mockups or it can be straight to code, I’m comfortable either way, although I think I’m more productive in code, but whatever. Just give me an idea that I can contribute to and put my own spin on and I will exceed your most wild expectations.
Also, I love writing reusable components and libraries. Recently Jacob Thornton an engineer at Twitter (@fat) shared a tweet at JSConf 2012 that I really found interesting. He tweeted, “new interview question: you have 45 minutes to write JQuery from scratch. get as far as you can. start from wherever you’d like.” I absolutely loved this question, not just because I think it would really separate the wheat from the chaff as it were, but also because I would love that challenge. Ultimately @fat concluded that anyone trying to answer that question would be screwed because there’s so much depth to JQuery, but I would absolutely love to try. I could spend a lifetime reanswering this question over and over and over, getting it more and more perfect each time. I have been fortunate in my career that the work I am asked to do more often than not has limitations that prevent us from using certain libraries. I get to go in, study those libraries and then recode them for my project. It’s quite enjoyable and amazing enriching.
Finally, I love sharing my knowledge with others and learning their ideas and knowledge as well. Mentoring to me can be quite a lot of fun and there is nothing better, IMHO, than a willing and eager student/peer that wants to learn or wants to debate. I love that sort of thing. The caveat, though, is that these activities must not take away from the above two activities. I like mentoring some of the time, but when it becomes a full time job, when I start managing, that’s where I lose interest. Surprisingly, I am extremely good at managing and have had a number of management position in the past, but ultimately, I have no interest in doing it in the future.
So, all that said, my ideal job is Hacker and Evangelist of Prototype Libraries. Now, I know that’s probably not a real job (if you think differently, please send me an email!), but that’s what I would ideally like to be doing. And it’s pretty cool that I’ve figured it out. I now have a benchmark by which I can hold up two jobs and ask, “How much does each of these jobs approach the ideal for which I have set myself.” That’s the job I’m more likely to take, that’s the job I want.
So, current job, how much do you think you live up to my ideal?