On Having a Super Power Skill

The Last Goat of Krypton - she codes in python

There is no question that this is a great time to be able to code but what of the Super Power skill thing? What does it feel like to have a “super power” skill? Do you know it if you have one? Is it something that becomes part of your overall mojo like a Superhero’s special powers? Here is a quick checklist I came up with to experiment.  I figure you probably need to have a good score on ALL of these to feel like Shazam every morning:

  • Interesting, challenging work that actually matters.
  • Membership in a robust, diverse and stimulating professional community.
  • Ability to easily change jobs when they suck or when a geo change is desired.
  • Good pay and long-term career growth expectations.
  • Flexibility with work configurations to meet multiple personality/lifestyle needs.

Doctors seem to have obvious “super power” jobs because of the perfect 10 they score on the “societal value” side and generally great pay side of things but then some of the physicians I know feel overly tied to their practices in a golden handcuff, freedom-robbing way and complain of soul-sucking drudgery working within a sector of the economy that is heavily centrally managed and litigious. My buddies who do useful things like fix cars or renovate bathrooms seem to enjoy solid pay, a good deal of day-to-day freedom and they definitely do things that we all need and value but then they complain to me about toxic customers, high costs of running a small business and high exposure to regional economic downturns. The programmer community I am a part of is similarly a mixed bad of joys and sorrows any given moment. It is definitely great to be able to do something well that few of us know how to do at all but there are a LOT of people who can say that. Great farmers who feed us, teachers who teach us and artists who enlighten us – seems they could easily get capes too if we are handing them out. Providing they are feeling good about things.


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  • Zoojik

    How I rate on the Shazam factor:

    * Interesting, challenging work that actually matters:

    I would have debated this one a week ago but yesterday I put together 30 packets of hygiene supplies for earthquake victims and today I have a great idea for another impromptu party at my friend’s new house (just waiting for her to wake up so I can tell her 🙂 to make about 20 more. Now this isn’t my every day job, and although I consider my everyday job to be important, like I say sometimes it can piss me off.

    * Membership in a robust, diverse and stimulating professional community:

    You betcha. But again, sometimes people can rub you up the wrong way and last week, I found myself resenting the daily snippety little e-mails from the bossy teacher whose job I took over as she fled from microscopically low levels of radiation here, 600 km from the danger zone. Still, that professional community that I’m in is diverse and stimulating, if not particularly robust in some cases.

    * Ability to easily change jobs when they suck or when a geo change is desired:

    Oh yeah man, I’ve done more flips than a Cirque de Soleil acrobat on opening night. However for now I am digging my trench deeeeeeeeeeep into my current job. I wonder if there will come a time I’ll do something else again. But a Geo change? Yeah, not going to happen any time soon.

    * Good pay and long-term career growth expectations:

    Ha! I get paid 18 dollars a month more than school fees and have a boss who wants to keep me in this part time position long enough for my children to graduate and keep paying school fees. So I kind of have the opposite. On the other hand, I have the ability to pay the school fees (no mean feat), and in theory I have the same days off as the kids, so that’s my payout for now.

    * Flexibility with work configurations to meet multiple personality/lifestyle needs:

    Hmm. Does it count if I was able to negotiate actually working part-time for part-time pay? It feels so good this year now that I don’t work 5 days a week, because I’m not being ripped off. And I remain so paranoid about the whole thing that I changed my pseudonym several times, and may ultimately end up not posting this at all.

    So super hero?

    No, that’s my friend’s husband, who was selling concrete pumps when the earthquake happened and he realised his product was uniquely designed to help with the situation in Fukushima – he took his great big machine up there and is living with the other Jack Bauers to train them how to use the machine.

    It’s my friend who is instrumental in organising trucks, and inspiring me to make hygiene packages.

    It’s that guy who scuba dived into his house to save his wife.

    Or the guy who picked his barber tools out of the mud, cleaned them off and set up shop in the evacuation centre to provide free haircuts to his fellow evacuees.

    It’s my friend’s husband who went up there by helicopter to set up and man a clinic in Iwate – his doctor friends take turns being there 3 or 4 days at a time, while their main businesses limp along at home.

    It’s my university teacher friend who has a different uplifting Facebook status every day.

    Man oh man, am I lucky to be surrounded by all these heroes…. thanks for getting me thinking! 🙂

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