Inflexion points in a career are really quite interesting things.
There’s a certain something about pushing yourself outside the base comfort zone – like the first time you do a SEM campaign, or code in jQuery, or do your first applied linear regression to awful, awful data. (But you do it).
And then there are points where you push yourself well beyond that comfort zone.
There’s a bit of a cycle to it, that I’ll compare to trying to swim.
First, you get out of the hottub and you walk around the pool and assess the situation. You see a shallow end, and a deep end. You know it would be far more safer to jump into the shallow end to start, based on the risk profile, but in many ways, there’s effectively no incentive to learn how to swim if you’re always bobbing around over there. Hell, if all you’re going to do in the shallow end is sort of walk around and try to swim occasionally, you might as well just stay in the hottub.
You check out some of the gear…there are those foam noodles. But you also have those arm bands that the kids use these days. They used to only come in bright orange, but these days anything flies on them — Mickey, Minnie, and yes, even Donald too. Outrageous.
You can use one of those floaty board things.
Once you’re nice and prepared to jump in, and you’ve decided on jumping into the deep end, all in, without a noodle, but one of those foam paddle thingies, and you put your toe in it. Yup. It’s cold. But you’ve been out of the hottub for awhile now, so you’ve gotta make up your mind if you’re going to go.
And then you decide to just do it. And you jump in, feet first.
There’s the first phase of thrashing about a lot. That kind of slapping at the water in some effort to lift oneself above the water. Then you kind of figure out that that isn’t really the goal, but rather, it’s to tread water, keeping your head just a bit above it so you can breathe.
Traditionally the next phase is the doggy paddle.
And, eventually you figure out how to breast stroke on some equally effective method of locomotion.
Then, sometime around learning the backstroke, you fully appreciate that you can swim.
Or you drown.
If Act 1 was putting on a bathing suit, and Act 2 was going out the hottub and getting out again, then today starts Act 3.
Have you had an Act 3 yet? What was it like?