Deep not wide

Posted on Tuesday June 18, 2013

Almost 10 years ago I was graduating from college, about to get married to the love of my life and trying to figure out what my career would look like. My degree was in Computer Science and while I enjoyed the creative process of it there were definitely areas that did not peak my interest.

As I started to dream of the future, I felt this pressure to get in somewhere on the ground level, work hard and work my way up fast. It was like everyone in my life at the time said that was the way to go. And so I did…

A few years went by, I was being highly successful at my job but I could not help but wonder, “is this it?” Was the goal to become a great developer, work my way up to management and eventually run the company? While that may be the path for many, I could not help but wonder if there was a different way.

What if one could go really deep into their craft? Instead of trying to be good at everything, what if I could be great at a thing?

One of my personal heroes, Andy Stanley, says it like this: “Embrace your strengths, delegate your weaknesses.” What a brilliant way of putting it. Stop trying to be good at something you are not strong at. Focus all of that time, effort and energy towards going deep into your craft and see where that lands you.

In the world of Technology, we crave expertise. If we can find someone who’s an expert at a particular skill then that is a definite home run hire. What if we all stopped worrying about the latest and greatest technology and went really deep into just a few areas? I am not saying stop being a learner, but perhaps we spend too much time trying to get “okay” with a couple dozen of technologies instead of being an “expert” with a few.

This is exactly what I am doing right now in my career. I am doubling down with iOS, Objective-C, Ruby, C# and the Open Web. I want to become an expert in these areas. Sure I will learn something new and stay up with the market but all of my time effort and energy for the past few years has been focused on going deep and not wide with these four.

What are you going deep with today? Perhaps you are too focused on going wide in your career path and need to take a step back. Figure out what your passion is, pursue it with reckless abandon and make your life enjoyable as you embrace your strengths, focus your intent and go deep.