Taking a leap, not a step

Just about anywhere we go, when we meet someone new there is one question we'll be asked - the seemingly straight forward "so, what do you do?" For many people this is a simple question with a straightforward answer. For some people though, it is more difficult to give the "I do this and work at" answer people expect. 

I'm in the latter group. Trying to sum up what I do and where I want to take those things inevitably leads to a much more in depth conversation, about what my skills and background are, where and how it earns money and so on. It can get quite difficult trying to make a different approach to work and career compatible with the way most people approach it. People are usually interested, but there is a logic gap which makes it hard for them to follow some of what you tell them. 

To me a big factor in the gap in understanding comes from the way we are brought up. Through our schooling, parents and just about everywhere we are taught about climbing the ladder - in our education, work and career and life in general. The rhetoric is always about taking steps, starting at the bottom and working your way up. For many people this works and it is a useful way to instil perseverance and work ethic.

The thing is, some people just don't think that way, and don't work their best trying to fit that mould. Climbing the ladder defines something potentially not intended by many people who use it as an analogy. It is a linear process, implying one thing happens before the next. Even without a time scale, this causes issues if your focus isn’t on a traditional, single destination goal.

To me the incremental climbing of a career ladder stifles a lot of creativity. That isn’t to say there aren’t things which need to be learned from experience, not at all. Personal experience isn’t everything though, shared experience can be much more beneficial to an organisation and individuals.

Some people, and I include myself as one, are not made for the 9 to 5 switch on, switch off work mode. Personally, I work best when I’m constantly changing what I’m doing, where my focus is and what I am delivering. If I don’t I become unmotivated and my ability to be creative and problem solve changes.

The solution for me became very clear - to set myself up to focus my energy and ideas on new, creative and sometimes a little bit crazy ideas. The only problem for me is describing what I do in a concise and accurate way.

Part of the problem is that the term entrepreneur has become so common it is almost overused. The serial start-up business, new market and disruptive side of the entrepreneur has become diluted by part-time small businesses and hobbyists. While I think there is definitely a place for any one and any idea which is viable, there is a difference between starting a new ladder, or working on multiple ladders at once and throwing away the ladder all together.

What I have boiled it all down to is one basic notion - what is it you want? Are you climbing the ladder or taking a jump into something completely new and different? 

If you are taking the jump it is most likely going to be because you want to change something, either about an industry, a market or yourself (or any combination of the three). To really change you need to take a leap of faith, in yourself and what you're doing.

So how am I going to start introducing myself?

“I’m Andrew and I jump on ideas and see what can be made of them.”