Thursday, March 01, 2012

Why I Took the Job…Ships Burning

Many people have asked me, “Jeremy, you had a thriving consulting practice? Why would you give that up (and the benefits of self-employment) to go work for someone else?”

The answer: Because I was scared.

I wasn’t scared of failure or of not being able to generate enough business. After 3.5 years, I knew that I could make that happen.

No, what was scaring the daylights of me was that I would be able to generate enough business doing the same thing I had been doing.

It was a fear of a lack of ability to TRULY innovate in my offerings that motivated.

Ok, that’s not entirely true, as I was (and am) genuinely excited about the Sprinklr opportunity and the mission of the company.

But, what made me open to the possibility of joining was this nagging fear of staying relevant of staying on the cutting edge.

Between my reading of Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why and its discussion of how neural pathways become so ingrained as to become hindrances rather than helpers and an inspiring blog post by Rajesh Setty about how “most careers plateau at age 40,” I found myself in a predicament.

I knew I could keep going and do well for a while, but how long that while would be wasn’t clear.

What was clear was that…at some point…I would have to do something that “forced the change” and MADE me confront a new challenge, developing new skills, and building out new neural pathways.

This isn’t easy and it gets progressively more difficult as we age, but it’s precisely for that reason that I felt like I almost had to do it (again…it dovetailed nicely with the natural passion I felt for Sprinklr and the team).

Even though it appears he didn’t really do it, the notion of Cortes “burning the ships” has become an inspiring vision in my mind and among some of my friends as well.

Perhaps a better metaphor is that of Abraham living Haran and going “to the place I will show you” as led by God.

In both instances, the requirement is a willingness to leave behind what you are/know in order to arrive at what you can become.

But, you can’t do it halfway.

So, that fear…plus the awesome opportunity of raising my game by taking all that I’ve studied/done in the past 3.5 years and apply it in a petri dish led me to the conclusion that it just had to be done.

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