Let me take a moment first to thank the "Send a free sample" Amazon functionality, because it's always hard to find a good book, but when it goes smooth by reading then you know you find your perfect match.
This is what's happening to me with "Thank You for Being Late" by Thomas L. Friedman, a book that talks about how things (technology, globalization, climate change, biodiversity, etcetera) are going super fast and how the society struggles to keep the pace, and it's like a how-to deal with everything that's going on today.
During Chapter 8, Friedman talks about how we are leaving the Holocene epoch for work. What's the Holocene? A "perfect Garden of Eden period when everything in nature was nicely in balance", as the author would describe it.
Basically, really really basically, following is "everything" that Friedman thinks about what's happening to work:
In those “glorious” decades after World War II [...] you could lead a decent lifestyle as an average worker [...]. And by just working an average of five days a week at an average of eight hours a day, you could buy a house, have an average of 2.0 kids, visit Disney World occasionally, save for an average retirement and sunset to life. So many things then were working in favor of the average worker.
[...] many workers in this labor Holocene enjoyed what was known as "a high-wage middle-skilled job" [...]. The high-wage, middle-skilled job has gone the way of Kodak film. In the age of accelerations, there is increasingly no such animal in the zoo anymore. There are still high-wage, high-skilled jobs. And there are still middle-wage, middle-skilled jobs. But there is no longer a high-wage, middle-skilled job. Average is officially over.
Now you know from where I took this post title.
Giving the extra mile?
There's no point on thinking about this concept at world scale, but instead try to apply what Friedman says to your workspace or personal work experience, either as an employee or employer, either as a Developer or a Technical Leader (if you don't mind me using terms I can relate to).
I remember that we had a money award at my previous job called "The extra mile" which worked as follow: everybody can nominate a coworker laying the reasons why we though he or she deserves the price based on that coworker performance for the last month, and then somebody from all the nominees gets the money.
Personally, I never quite understood why this award existed or why... how to... nominate somebody. Are we now supposed to reward people for just doing their job? Isn't that the salary what's for? But after reading this book now I get it, we're celebrating not average people! Which is terrible sad.
Average is officially over because it won't take you, your company, your team, anywhere. There was a time when you would learn a skill and that would be enough to succeed at work, but nowadays what you learn has an expire date as much as the milk in your refrigerator. While average gets you nowhere, the "extra mile" is now your start point at middle class.
If you have a friend who is a Doctor then he or she can tell you about the end of the Holocene epoch concept. Your friend probably said that getting the Doctor title isn't enough nor the end of the journey, is a checkpoint not the end of the race, as Doctors need to keep on studying for the rest of their lives if they want to be "something". That now applies to all working areas.
Spoiler alert: there's no end of the race... well, probably there is, and it's called mediocrity. If you are average, please, don't ask for a raise, because you're putting an expiration date on yourself... your team, your company.
No politician in America will tell you this, but every boss will: You can’t just show up. You need a plan to succeed.
That was Friedman again.
Enough of abstract concepts, let's get (even more) real...
Now if you open LinkedIn the job offers will list Vue.js as mandatory. For a framework released 4 years ago now Recruiters ask for 2 years of experience, but 2 years ago was in no one's picture. That's a mind-blowing perfect example of how things became so fast so quickly!
On another topic, everybody is saying that 2019 is the year of Progressive Web Apps: there's a lot of post about it, a lot of talk about it in conferences, Vue Storefront exists for nearly a year, Magento is releasing PWA Studio in the following months... Are you doing PWA or at least do you have it on your roadmap? Or are you planning on pass on this year without touching it? If so, cross your fingers for your competitor to think alike.
Are you a designer? Are you still delivering static PSD files or are you doing animations already?
Remember that showing up at work is not enough, that's only average, you need a plan, you need to keep on moving.
I always liked to say during performance reviews or interviews that everybody has access to the same documentation, the same resources, tools, software, the same mentors inside a workspace, so the difference between good employees and bad employees, the difference between those who succeed, those who fail, and those who meh (averages) is the personality.
Anyway, I'm not saying that to excuse companies from responsibilities.
Celebrating not average is sad because it means that everybody but that one who won "The extra mile", including the whole company, will struggle in the near future. Are we all average but one?
Shouldn't we stop and rethink what we are doing, where are we going and how are we getting there?...well... stop and rethink... I know how ironic that sounds in this post about the era of acceleration.