The one thing that will save your career

No, switching jobs won’t help. Nor would getting a degree or a certification from a prestigious entity (at least not to the extent you think it helps) will. In an age where our culture’s obsessed with the shiny-object-syndrome, the latest trends, the next big wave of whatever (and god knows what), I believe the basics still work.

And what would these “basics” be for your career? Simply this — sticking with it all through the end. Period.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t switch jobs when it’s appropriate or that you should stop investing time in learning and education. All of that is great and often necessary. But I think we’re grossly short on patience and focus. So much so that we aspire results that took some of the top leaders and entrepreneurs years on a “close-of-business” tomorrow basis.

Besides, we barely get to hear the “stickability” factor these days. We’re knee deep in a million things and are constantly searching for the next big break or riding on the next big wave that’s going to earn us the riches. It’s as if we’re treating our career as an investment portfolio — an obsession to diversify, just because the experts and the news media says so.

They say “too much of anything is bad for you.” I believe too much of diversification can distract us from not just our goals but also from achieving anything significant in life. As someone who’s obsessed with mastery, I can tell you from experience — go deep instead of going wide.

Believe me, it’s far too easy to become very good and get noticed in a particular area than it used to be. How? Nobody’s doing it. Seriously, look around you! You’ll see engineers who’re entrepreneurs, stand-up comics, writers, public speakers, angel investors, and start-up advisors all at the same time. I’m pretty sure you’ll find many other examples but the main point is this — you can be a damn good engineer who’s passionate about what you do or a mediocre all-in-one amateur.

If you don’t enjoy engineering, great! Find something else that you’re passionate about and willing to master. This, of course, takes some exploration but definitely not beyond a few months. Once you’ve found what you want to do, go deep. And stick with it until you’re so good that people can’t ignore you. The last bit takes time, patience, and a lot of effort.

P.S. Isn’t it ironic that your idols and superheroes are literally “masters” at what they do? They do one, two, or a few things but do it so well that the world can’t help but take notice. And, yes, they didn’t achieve it overnight.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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