Early in your career, your focus should be on honing your craft. Do the work. Learn about the work. Put in the extra hours. Start a side project that gives you even more at-bats. Your goal needs to put yourself on a track to be great at what you do. Once you've unlocked that level, two things should happen. First, you'll have more opportunities. And with that, you'll increase your earning power. In most industries, you should earn a comfortable living now - in some industries; you might earn a ton (like if you're a senior software engineer or a heart surgeon).
There are two more categories of skills to acquire to unlock the next level of growth in your career. In most industries, achieving a high degree of mastery in at least one of them is necessary to achieve the next level of career growth. If this is your path, you'll end up "doing" less and less.
- Managing. Rather than maximize your work output, can you manage and get the most out of others? Managing people can be a colossal scaling function for both company productivity and your own career growth. My favorite book about management is the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
- Selling. Can you sell your work, company, product, nonprofit or service to others? If yes, you're again offering the potential to grow both your organization and your career. Demand Side Sales is my rather unexpected favorite book about sales.
If you end up being good at both of them, you'll likely find yourself either running or helping to run the company.
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