One of the highlights of SXSW this year for me personally, was being able to see a panel with Andy Budd of Clearleft, a person and company for whom I have the utmost respect. The panel was about usability testing and the tools you can use to better know your users, but one of the major takeaways I got had more to do with how to approach your job in general.
The discussion that led to Budd’s little slice of wisdom revolved around how to get a company’s designers and developers together and interested in usability testing. One response was to entice a team with pizza and soda and make a day out of it. Budd’s response was that if you have to bribe your developers for them to take an interest in improving their products, then “hire better people”. As Budd said, “It’s everyones job to build better ****!” (Profanity excluded but I think it still makes the point!)
Budd’s passion on the topic was inspiring, and the point he raised was an excellent one. Continually improving your skills, and therefore the products you develop, should not be a chore; it should be the goal.
I can think of two reasons for not trying to continually improve your current set of skills:
You have no desire to improve.
You feel there is no need.
No Desire to Improve
If you have no desire to improve, find a different career. Sorry to be blunt, but I believe we are not intended to spend our lives working on something that we have no desire to be doing at the highest level of competence that we are able to obtain. If you’re not in a profession you truly enjoy, find one that you do.
No Need to Improve
If you feel there is no need to improve, that you know all you need to know about a topic…then you’re doing it wrong. Whether it be improvements to your speed, efficiency, quality or general knowledge base, there is always room to improve. If you think you know everything there is to know, you most certainly do not.
For truly great work, you must be passionate about what you do, and you need to surround yourself with other passionate people. If you’re not in that situation, whether it be the people who surround you or the career you’ve chosen, do whatever you must to get there. Life is too short to not spend it doing something you truly enjoy.