Manage the first derivative.

Roland Tanglao pointed me to this post from Eric Sink. I’ve excerpted the key grafs here, but go read the whole thing.

Career Calculus.

We convince ourselves that the real problem is that people don’t seem to know how clueful we are. Over time, we come to believe that the important thing is not our actual cluefulness but rather the degree to which others perceive us as clueful.

I submit that worrying about how others perceive your C value [cluefulness] is a waste of time. The key to a great career is to focus on L, the first derivative of the equation. L [learning] is the rate at which your cluefulness is changing over time. The actual value of C at any given moment is usually a distraction. Only one question matters: With each day that goes by, are you getting more clueful, or less clueful? Or are you just stuck?


It’s a very succinct expression of why you should care about learning for your own selfish purposes. It’s the one thing you can control that links to the payoffs you can’t control. Well worth your time to read and reflect on. Eric focuses on technical learning, but his point, of course, applies to all kinds of learning. Thanks to Roland for the pointer and Eric for the reflections