Digital Pathfinder — an Unleash path retrospective

When I was applying for my first office job as a web developer, I was hoping that I would be the most knowledgeable person in the office when it comes to dev work. And when I got hired, it turned out to be just like that. I had a decent amount of freelance experience behind my shoulders and I was considered to be the benchmark of skill in the office. I was confident, and it felt good for a few months, it then turned out to be very mundane very fast. Our daily tasks varied from writing small pieces of Javascript, to setting up a CMS website, to debugging the network. Most of the stuff was done for internal use, never making it to production. In a little under a year of me working there, I had not a single thing I achieved, that I could say, I was proud of. My work was one-dimensional, there was no challenge, there was no learning and there was nobody to look up to.

If you are always the fastest runner on a track, you will never exercise to your real potential.

Only after I quit the job did I realize how rusty it made me. I went back to freelance and it felt like a breath of fresh air. It was diverse and challenging. And the best thing was that it felt like uncharted territory again, a completely different jungle this time though. I started being a lot more selective in what kind of work I wanted to tackle, and who I wanted to work with in general.

Growth motivates the most

The only thing that could keep me going was growth. Any collaboration that didn’t result in growth was a short collaboration. And by growth, I mean not only the professional skill, tangent to whatever I was working on directly. I wanted to work with people more skilled than me. I wanted to work with people who would share what they strive for and motivate me to push forward a little bit harder than I was considering a good pace.

Not an utopia

I think most will agree that having the opportunity to grow alongside like-minded people is a good place to be, there’s momentum and inspiration enough to always keep you moving. Let’s take it a bit further and consider that the company you work for, actually wants you to grow and achieve your goals, and those goals don’t necessarily have to directly align with the activity of the company, that’s an even better place to be, right? But there’s more, what if there’s someone in the company, dedicated to help you define your ambitions, convert them into achievable steps and focus on them one by one? All of the above combined is what we in X-team call “Unleashing”.

Pathfinding

If I would summarize my year of 2016 in unleashing, I would say that I was searching for my own path. The journey was well worth it, I went through a lot of different technology seeing what clicks for me, including Ruby, Python, Node, React, Angular, etc. It was a long journey, one that cumulatively took me a good half of the year to fully accomplish, there was a lot to learn, and I tried to go an extra step, and apply or experiment with each thing I learned at least a little bit.

Unleash path achievements

A few side projects I did using my fresh pathfinding knowledge was a bot for Twitch.tv written from ground up in Python, and another little bot for Discord.gg using Javascript and a pinch of Node.js

Some other Pathfinder achievements like ES2015 and React, made me curious about the use of Webpack which was a new direction and I went through the awesome SurviveJS course on Webpack and React. I also ventured into the world of Javascript and SVG animations with GSAP and many other things that branched directly out of the newly acquired skills.

My second longest streak was Blogging. I enjoy writing and I was committed to deliver a blog post every 2 months, which I almost achieved every time, except for the very last one I had to finish in December, however, you are reading it right now — better late than underbaked.

I’d give my third spotlight to the achievements that had to do with Raspberry Pi, I find these little machines fascinating and generally cool to experiment with. I have multiple Raspberries and I use them for so many things, I have them serve web pages locally, I run Python scripts off of them, i split live streams through an RTMP server, the list can continue on and on.

What’s coming in 2017

Most Unleashed Award — 2016

I averaged at about 38 unleash achievements in 2016. The longest path i had was “The Pathfinder” streak with 12 achievements. It has been a crazy adventure, I cannot thank enough my unleasher Kuba for coping with all this. I may have ventured in way too many directions, and made it look way too busy, but this exercise came just at the right time. I really needed to jump into the unknown back then. The “Most Unleashed Award” which I received at the end of 2016 is as much my, as it is my unleasher Kuba’s merit.

I can’t promise another 38 achievements in 2017, I never counted them up until today, and the number is of no relevance really. I also can’t promise to be successful at luring more X-teamers onto the dance floor, like the one time in Paris.

What I can promise is more blog posts, more involvement in open source, more diversity in achievements, more participation in our community, and even a few personal goals this time around, revolving around calligraphy, streaming, making videos and all of the three put together.

May your unleash momentum be a Porsche with no breaks :)