Last weekend I got obsessed with a film maker. I wanted to know all about him and watch everything he has done. The problem was that the film maker in question only has two feature films and a couple of short films. But those two were so great. So I decided to just watch and read interviews with him, read commentaries and reviews on the movies and just soak it in. What I found out, appropriately, was that this director was also very obsessive with his interests and what he wanted to do when making a film. Every detail should be precise, every button on the coats had to be perfect. To him, to convey his vision, it was all about an accumulation of details.
And that's when I remembered —I think I've always known to some degree—, you always need a little obsession to create something special and unique.
Now, I'm not encouraging a toxic behavior. I'm not telling you to stop eating and sleeping. Or to quit your day job. That's not what this is about. But I'm saying that every once in a while you should focus on one thing and one thing only. After all, you know the saying, "jack of all trades, but master of none". And you don't want to be that.
So perhaps one day, when you are not juggling everything and wearing seven hats to make your project work —that's a thing, and that happens a lot too—, you can focus on developing a skill super well, or knowing a lot about a subject related to your endeavors. Maybe you peak into the world of A.I. Cool. Now deep dive in it. Read about it, watch videos, old and new, consume entertainment related to it, ask questions about it (to yourself and to others).
And when I say deep dive I really mean it. Nowadays we are very fortunate to have the access to information that we have. But that also means that almost everything that you get to know, other people can know as well. And that's where it becomes a test of depth and interest. Don't just go into the Wikipedia entries (nothing against Wikipedia. In fact it's a great starting point to see if that's actually what you want to research about). Don't just check out a three minute interview on YouTube.
Be above that.
You want to know all about API's? Great. Start with Wikipedia and YouTube, but slowly transition into more niche and dense publications. Perhaps get a book about it. Find via Twitter or Slack some guru on the topic. And all of that will eventually add to a more refined product. A little research on API's showed you how sloppy you were with them in the first iteration of your mobile app. Further knowledge on them made the app run like a fricking cheetah.
Of course, you will eventually get sick of the topic. And you might even step back from it. But the research —or some amount of it— will be done by this time, and no knowledge is a waste. It might not be of any use today or tomorrow, but remember, it's all an accumulation of details. So sooner or later, you'll probably add them up.