If you don’t live in San Francisco, spending some time there can put you in a different sort of mood, as it often does for me. I just got back from a trip to SF last week, and I’m still thinking about it.
When you’re there, it feels like you’re always behind on the next big thing when it comes to technology. That maybe everyone is working on something great (this is leaving aside whether you yourself are working on something great). Everyone seems smarter, and further ahead of you. Sure, you know the hot buzzwords as well as they do, and maybe you can see through them too: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
But of course, with an industry like tech, there is always bound to be something new and exciting going on which can make you feel left behind. You think that maybe you are not reading the right things, that maybe you’re not up-to-speed on the latest, that actually you’ve already been left behind.
A few days after leaving SF, I wondered if everyone out west was playing some game to keep ahead of everyone else. Maybe they themselves feel like I do, like they’re in danger of being left behind. Maybe they feel a certain pressure to work on the things they work on, to talk the way they talk, to make it feel like they are doing something interesting themselves, to keep up with the next guy.
When I feel this way, I try to bring the focus back to what I’m working on, to the teams I work with and to the people that rely on me. There’s so much more still to be done. You haven’t been left behind. You are not too late. There will always be new ideas, new problems to solve, even new ways to think about what you are currently working on.
I’m reminded of a Kevin Kelly essay, three years old now, but still great words, wise as ever: “You Are Not Late”.