Be a Gem Collector
3 min read

Be a Gem Collector

Experiences are like gems in video games. The more you collect, the faster the game of life progresses. What's your endgame? Are you collecting rare gems, or ones that aren't really moving the needle in the direction you're after?
Be a Gem Collector

Experiences are like gems in a video game.

The more you collect, the easier the game becomes to finish.

If you don't bother collecting them you'll eventually finish the game (sometimes) but you've opted to make the journey way harder than it needed to be.

If you want to progress faster you have to collect gems faster!

The best part is that this is a recursive loop that gets faster every iteration. It's not linear, it's exponential.

Unlocking more powerful items lets you slay bigger baddies, provides access to lucrative areas and unlocks doors you couldn't even see before.

It's Dangerous to Go Alone. Take this.

Screenshot of Nintendo game Legend of Zelda with the wizard saying the famous phrase
Anyone else have fond memories of TLoZ for NES?

But you don't have to go it alone. You might not even know where to start looking! In Assassin's Creed: Valhalla you can discover Points of Interest on the map by stumbling across people on the road and having a chat with them. It's not that those locations are hidden, it's just that they're off the road and you really need to be exploring to find them yourself.

It kinda works the same way in real-life too. You might have some gems you forgot you collected. There may be gems hiding in plain sight, if you only looked. You may just need someone to say something out loud to realize it.

For example, here is an assortment of Developer Gems I've collected:

  • Contributing to open source projects
  • Freelancing and writing for clients
  • Building a side project to try new technologies
  • Mentoring and coaching co-workers
  • Answering questions to help others
  • Having a blog
  • Starting an LLC
  • Speaking at conferences
  • Authoring courses
  • Producing videos

There are possibly hundreds of experiences if I start listing them out. Some were found in my Career treasure chest. Others are Big Fuckin' Gems like having kids. Each experience offers something that I've been able to use in a future opportunity.

"What're ya buyin'?"

Screenshot of The Merchant from Resident Evil 4, an infamous character
Got some rare things on sale, stranger!

Unlike the precious treasures that you part with to buy new guns from The Merchant, experiences never leave you.

In this way, experiences are not like gems.

You accumulate experiences and each one provides some bit of knowledge, some skill, which can be used later to make something easier, faster, or open a door to an opportunity you didn't have before.

What's your endgame?

What's the next level look like for you?

Senior developer... Lead... Principal...? Then what?

Do you have an endgame in mind? A final boss?

Because if you want to reach that endgame faster, you're going to need to become a gem collector.

Legend of Zelda rupee graphic with different colors and values
Having lived in Pakistan I always found it funny Zelda used rupees too! Credit: studiomuku / Deviant Art.

I credit hearing the phrase "experiences are like gems in videogames" on the Journey to Launch podcast awhile back. I tried searching for which episode I first heard it and couldn't find it. But this is a great podcast to check out!

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