Yuki, my sister, works in the mechanical prototyping industry, among many other things she has gotten into throughout her life. We say that she is the adventurous one in the family. She told me about Les, a machinist she met recently.
Les is a really good machinist. Because he is so good at what he does, he gets a lot of requests from many customers to make more parts. He has to turn them down. The job comes to him, not the other way around. His current project is to make a treadmill. He’s mostly doing it for fun because he can, and unlike a treadmill that has to be plugged in, his is powered by the person running. He is pretty badass.
It’s not easy to get to where Les is, where opportunities just come your way. But we all have something to learn from him.
When you search around the internet for career advice, there’s certainly no shortage of them. I’ve read (and even written) some of them. So much of the information out there focuses on the easy things: what to say in an interview, how to craft your resume and cover letter, how to attend events and meet people. It’s as if marketing ourselves is the most important thing. But is that true? Sure those little things might matter, but to focus our conversation on those things assumes that all jobs are scarce and everybody must fight (or even beg) for them. But really, that’s only for the people who are not yet like Les. So why are we not trying to be like him first and foremost? The tragedy is, all the nuggets of advice we find all over the world in books and internet articles dilute the most important message that we all need to hear:
The single most important thing you should be doing right now is to invest the time you have in honing your craft.
This is not easy. It takes time and work. But it makes the most difference.
I am certainly no Les. I am not there yet. But I have seen over the years that the more I work on my craft, the less I have to ask for opportunities, and more that just come to me. This applies no matter your field. The concept is simple, it’s not rocket science. The higher the quality of your work, the more it is valued.
How well you do your craft matters, A LOT. Invest in it.