I was thinking at some point this week – maybe walking to work, maybe reading an email from an old colleague, maybe after a joking exchange in my offices – that “optimizing skill and passion” gets us only so far in finding the right career. The last mile, as they say, comes when you find your tribe.
Back when I worked outside the technology industry, I often felt like an alien being. The people who sat round my lunch table held very different values, and communicated in a very different language than I.
I remember a salesperson told me I made him uncomfortable because I used the word “visceral” to explain the appeal of a hinge. That’s just how I talk. It made him feel as though I was pointing out our differences, but I had only meant to find a term that communicated precisely. We were never going to work together happily.
I went to work in tech in 1997. Those first few months interacting daily with software engineers answered questions I hadn’t even known I was asking. “Oh my gosh,” I thought, or to be precise, felt, “I am at home.” For the first time, no self-editing required. Sure, there’s always the need to maintain professional behavior. Which eventually became managerial behavior. But still, gone the persistent and debilitating, “Can I say this?”
The software guys, and the industry that has sprung up around them, value precision (which they are apt to call “granularity”), logic, broad well-bounded hypotheses, and straight talk. I can do that. Other businesses may operate the same way, but they didn’t hire me so I don’t know.
Find your work tribe. Perhaps you already have. We get much more done when we work without a translator.
Have a wonderful weekend.