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Play for growth.
This week, ThePrimeagen shared a short little 3-minute video that has a golden nugget of wisdom:
Develop the skills of where you want to be.
He advocates this through playing in personal projects to let that influence your career. He uses the example of developing and playing in personal projects in Rust (a powerful new systems programming language) for years before ever being paid to work in it. Now, he spends around 20% of his week working in a powerful new language he enjoys.
I love this because it’s a technique I’ve also used my entire career. It’s something I’ve encouraged others to embrace as well. It’s how I learned to write Go and Python (and how I’m learning Zig). It’s how I learned to build computers, computer networks, and work in Linux. It’s how I learned tools like Chef, Ansible, Terraform, Vault, Docker, and Kubernetes. It’s how I dove into deeply technical topics like Cryptography and Content Addressable Storage. These technologies have played an essential role in my career. They came from just poking around, kicking the tires, and building some toy projects for myself before working with them professionally. Doing this opened doors and career opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined.
While the purpose of play shouldn’t be “to get more money,” the act of finding enjoyment in my work has tended to lead me there. Think about it. Play is a way to test-run things before you commit to them in your work. If you find something that brings you joy and that same thing brings value to others, it perfectly overlaps: you get to bring your play to work. There is a Mark Twain quote from A Connecticut Yankee In King Author’s Court that I love:
The law of work seems unfair, but nothing can change it; the more enjoyment you get out of your work, the more money you will make.
I’ve learned plenty of technologies “just for work.” I’m happy to do this, but those tools seem to come and go. The things I learned “just for play” have led to some of the most rewarding work I’ve encountered professionally.
Give it a try. Play with something that excites and challenges you. The breadth and depth of enjoyment you’ll get is the reward. I bet it might bleed over into other parts of your life in surprising and delightful ways.
Notable Links this week
A comprehensive and pragmatic Go encoding/json/v2 proposal
Buildkite’s blog post on UUIDv7 is a good read on balancing random IDs and index locality.
I recently discovered Ben Kuhn’s blog, and this post Some Mistakes I Made as a New Manager is a great way to be introduced to his writing.
This made the rounds on the internet, but it’s a nice reminded that the oldest living torrent is 20 years old (of course, it’s a Matrix fan film)
Stacksmashing has a new video on his JTAG hacking on the iPhone.
so much aesthetic. I just discovered SO-SO recently, and I’m glad I did.