Before I even get going, I want you to tell me 3 things you would deem yourself proficient at.
Got 3? Great. Now:
I want you to think of 2 people in one of those fields, that are more proficient than you are. Can you think of 2? If you can’t, it’s time to expand your bubble.
Proficiency is a Bubble
If you are going to get anywhere in your career, you need to pop your ‘Proficiency Bubble’, and do it quickly. Why?
The only way you can perceive that you are proficient at something is if you feel you are better, or as good as, other people around you, who do the same thing. When we perceive that we are at the top of a skill set, we tend, as humans do, to stop pursuing further accomplishments and maintain. If you surround yourself with people who are better at things than you are, you’ve essentially bursted that ‘bubble’ of proficiency that was surrounding you when you didn’t know better.
Knowing when it’s time to expand
In our day to day work, it’s extremely easy to lose sight of where we stand within our respective realms. We’re so focused on tasks, that we forget we need t see where this ship is headed, sometimes. If at any point, you stop working for a moment to see what’s new in your area of focus, and can’t think of who you should be looking to for guidance; One of two things has happened:
- You ARE the person people are looking to for guidance (in which case, it’s time to find a new person to focus on)
- You need to expand your horizons, and meet/follow/befriend some new people in your field.
Your bubble should be expanding
As you move through your career and learn new skills and areas of proficiency, you can quickly find yourself isolated.
Back when I was at GoDaddy, I was moved from a team focused primarily on PHP and WordPress, to NodeJS and using Handlebars for markup. I’d never used either of these stacks before, so this was new. The first thing I did though? I went and found the people who were leading the way in NodeJS and Handlebars and followed them on Twitter. I found some developers blogging about the topics and bookmarked them. If someone gave a good response on StackOverflow, I looked up their social profiles to see if they always talked about this kind of stuff.As your skills expand, you need to expand your social 'bubble'. Click To Tweet
About once a month I like to do 2 things:
- Go through some influential developers in my bubble, and see who they are following, replying to, and mentioning on Twitter. Odds are I’ll find a new one I should be following.
- Scroll through some key hashtags on Twitter, and see what’s happening in the space. These hashtags will change depending on your sphere, but the principal remains the same.
I know these are Twitter related, but that’s where the bulk of my developer and product towner communities live.
The other great thing to do is meetups. Yep, actual, physical, face-to-face meetups. I can’t tell you how much I get out of showing up to my local WordPress meetups. They inspire and motivate me, which is why I try and attend 2 a month.