Living in the sweet spot

The sweet spot is the intersection of what you’re good at, what you love doing, and what the world needs. This idea shows up in lots of career books because it’s so powerful. Find your sweet spot, and you can make great things happen.

I’ve written about changing the world before, and it becomes more real every day. I do more and more of the things that make me happy in life and at work. This is what my current diagram looks like:

intersections

There are more skills I can include in these, though, but these are the most important ones.

I love what I do, I get better and better at it, and I create value by doing what I do. How did I get to be so lucky? =)

If you look at the posts I’ve shared on my blog through the years, you’ll notice that I frequently think about what I love doing and how I can do those things even better. Interests blossom into passions through practice and experience. The more I learn about something, the deeper I appreciate it. I share what I’ve learned at work, too. That almost always results in people finding some way to take advantage of my skills and passions, which is how I end up getting paid for all these things I love to do. If the company ever decided to phase out my group, I can see myself creating a business around these core skills.

How did I get to this point? One idea led to another. It started with coding. I taught myself how to program in grade school. I joined competitions throughout high school and college, and I learned a lot in the process. My interest in programming led to open source software, which got me interested in Emacs and personal information management. That led me to blog, which resulted in a new interest in writing. I’d never enjoyed writing essays for English class, but I loved writing about what I was learning. This turned into public speaking when I found out that the things I was learning also interested other people. The more I learned, the more I could help people brainstorm new ideas. The more I wrote, the more I found myself connecting with others, which also helped me brainstorm. The more I wrote and connected, the more people asked me to coach them on how to do the same. I started playing around with drawing when a friend asked me to explain something, and that kicked off yet another interest. I picked up other hobbies like photography, sewing, and cooking along the way. Then I was asked to facilitate sessions on emerging technologies, and here I am. And paperwork, well, everyone has to do that. =)

Where do I go from here? With a strong foundation like this, I can see opportunities to grow almost everywhere. I’m looking forward to improving my facilitation skills. I’m not bad at facilitation. I’m not consistently good yet, and someday, I might be. I love working on my core skills and adding new ones. I can’t wait to figure out what I’ll learn how to do next, and how I can share that with everyone!

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  • http://coevolving.com David Ing

    You’re fortunate in that you’re working at the intersection set of things that you’re good at, you love doing, and can be paid for. As your career progresses, you’ll get opportunities where you’ll have to face up to moving forward … and thereby giving up at least one of those three dimensions.

    People have to be careful what they wish for … because they might get it.

  • http://www.catehuston.com Cate

    Love this post! Inspired to make my own diagram :-) It must be great to work at a company which encourages so much personal growth and development.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    David: I hope the progression continues to be that I’ll develop things I’m passionate about, become good at them, and then bring them into work! Perhaps my relentless optimism will kick in and I’ll figure out how to fall in love with other aspects of my job, too, or at least balance it with other things I love a lot. <grin>

    Cate: Indeed. It’s a wonder that more people don’t take advantage of it!

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