2 min read

Chasing your own north star

Chasing your own north star
Photo by Mike Setchell / Unsplash

Many years ago, I found myself caught in the middle of some organizational politics. I was stuck in a deadlock with a colleague, and felt really frustrated.

On paper, I seemed to be winning the battle, with our senior leadership siding with me. However, the politics was also stalling the launch of my product. Rather than being able to move forward, my team and I were blocked on decisions that awaited the attention of those same senior leaders, who were distracted by the ongoing conflict.

I remembering asking a mentor for guidance, who said to me:

What's your north star?

Is it winning this fight, or launching the product you've worked so hard on all year?

Life is all about choosing your own adventure. There are not right or wrong answers. Which adventure do you want to choose?

This question of choosing your own north star really stuck with me. Of course I wanted to win the fight, but more than that, I wanted our product to launch and to make it available to our users. Clarifying my priorities made it easy for me to ask our leadership to focus on helping me launch, rather than engaging in debates over who was right or wrong.

I think about this question of finding your own north star a lot when I am making decisions. As the Uber TL of the Google Cloud SDK, my north star is to create spaces that empower my team to leverage our collective skills and build the most delightful SDK possible. As someone about to go on a 3-week vacation, my north star is to tie up loose ends, end my week on a relaxing note, and feel excited to come back.

Whenever people ask me for career advice, I always tell them to find your north star, and run as fast as you can in the direction that brings you closest towards it. If you don't know what it is, deciding is the first step. Chasing your own north star is your adventure. However you wish you pursue it, the most important part is to enjoy that chase, every step along the way.