“The biggest enemy of career mobility is comfort … Comfort leads us to false security and we stop seeking growth, both in skills and mindset agility. I see all the time, even amongst very successful senior business people, that the ones who struggle with career advancement, are the ones whose worlds have become narrow – they engage mainly with people from their industry or expertise area, and their thinking about how their skills or experience might be transferable can be surprisingly superficial.”
The comfort-zone danger … resonates with Deepak and me.
— My take:
The author cast a negative light on comfort-zone, but comfort is generally a good thing. Whereas, admittedly, those individuals (as described) pay a price for their comfort-zones, there are 10 times more people who desire that level of comfort, however imperfect this comfort is.
Comfort for the masses means livelihood. For me, comfort has the additional meaning of carefree.
Whereas the author’s focus is maximum advancement, not wasting one’s potential i.e. FOLB and endless greed, our goal is long-term income security (including job security ). This goal is kinda holy grail for IT professionals. Comfort as described in CNA is temporary, not robust enough. Therefore, I see three “states of comfort in livelihood”
- Level 1 — no comfort. Most people are in this state. Struggling to make ends meet, or unbearable commute or workload (my GS experience)
- Level 2 — short (or medium) term comfort, is the subject of the CNA quote. Definition of “short-term” is subjective. Some may feel 10Y comfort is still temporary. Buddhists would recognize the impermanence in the scheme.
- Level 3 — long-term comfort in livelihood. Paradoxically, a contingency contractor can achieve this state of livelihood security if he can, at any time, easily find a decent job, like YH etc. I told Deepak that on Wall St, (thanks to dump luck) Java provides a source of long-term comfort and livelihood security. Detachment needed!
 income security is mostly job security. Fewer than 1% of the population can achieve income security without job security. These lucky individuals basically have financial freedom. But do take into account (imported) inflation, medical, housing, unexpected longevity,,
Deepak pointed out a type of Level-2 comfort — professional women whose main source of meaning, duty, joy is the kids they bring up. For them, even with income instability, the kids can provide comfort for many years.
Deepak pointed out a special form of Level-3 carefree comfort — technical writers. They can have a job till their 80’s. Very low but stable demand. Very little competition. Relatively low income.
Deepak felt a key instability in the IT career is technology evolution (“churn” in my lingo), which threatens to derail any long-term comfort. I said the “change of the guard” can be very gradual.
— Coming back to the carefree concept. I feel blessed with my current carefree state of comfort. Probably temporary, but pretty rare.
Many would point to my tech learning, and challenge me — Is that carefree or slavery to the Churn? Well, I have found my niche, my sweet spot, my forte, my 夹缝, with some moat, some churn-resistance.
Crucially, what others perceive as constant learning driven by survival instinct, is now my livelong hobby that keeps my brain active. Positive stress in a carefree life.
The “very successful senior business people”, i.e. high-flyers, are unlikely to be carefree, given the heavy responsibilities. Another threat is the limelight, the competition for power , glory and riches. In contrast, my contractor position is not nearly as desirable, enviable, similar to the technical writers Deepak pointed out.