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My Self-Reflection on Success and Growth

In his essay "What's Going On Here, With This Human?", Graham Duncan discusses the importance of seeing people clearly, both in the context of hiring and in understanding oneself. He suggests asking the question "what's going on here with this person in front of me?" and provides a framework for expanding one's ability to see others more clearly. Inspired by this essay, I asked myself some probing questions to better understand my own strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. Here are my reflections:

When in my life or career have I experienced a moment of ignition, where I saw someone doing something intuitively, and I knew that I was wired the same way and wanted to do that? What did I learn from that experience?

Ownership of code. Realizing that I can push the work I need to see, and if the work isn't done, I continue to push that work, even if it makes me the enemy. It's a mistake to attach the work product to who you are as a person. Having agency and understanding that the job needs to be done, executed well, and move on to the next thing.

What am I compulsive about in my work?

At the deepest level, I want to be right and want the frameworks I use to make decisions to be aesthetic and very high leverage. I obsess about making things simpler, more aesthetic, and more expressive in my craft. I also focus on having the highest leverage work since I can't code as much anymore.

How would my friends describe me in ten adjectives?

Neurotic, kind, focused, multidisciplinary, stubborn. If I am shown to be wrong, I will change my mind and apologize. Being wrong and admitting it is valuable because it updates your world model.

What criteria would I use to hire someone for my own role? What attributes and skills are the most critical for success?

The ability to prioritize while also consuming everything. Minimalism is perceiving the entire universe and picking the things you want by deleting everything else. The ability to take in large context and narrow down is my biggest skill.

What's the toughest feedback I've gotten from a manager or mentor?

I was working too much and it wasn't clear if all the energy I was putting into the system was pushing the machine in the right direction. You have to be proud of the outcome, not the variables. Can't be proud about the leverage and not put in the work either.

What am I most torn about in my professional life right now?

Finding leverage. I enjoy working on projects that take maybe a year or two to build out. Figuring out if projects should be two months, six months or two years long. I really enjoy the one to two year minimum.

Who are the best people I've worked with and what made them so exceptional?

Obsession and curiosity. They disappear for a couple months, come back passionate about a new thing they learned. I admire being able to go deep, even though my scope is much larger.

How have I grown and evolved in the last 5-10 years? What have been my biggest learnings and developments?

After my hand injury, my force output was cut by a factor of two to ten. But if I can think harder, prospect, and find a lever that's a hundred times longer, it doesn't really matter. That's my biggest development.