Ever since I bought the original iPhone in 2007, there’s been one app above all others that I’ve been sorely missing: Gmail. Of course, back then, there were no native third-party apps. But a year later, when those came, Gmail was still nowhere to be found.
At first, the talk was that Apple wasn’t going to allow another mail app on their device. Then it was that Google was simply focusing on the mobile web (they’ve had a pretty good mobile web version of Gmail for a while). Then it was the strained (to put it mildly) relationship between Google and Apple. Still, other Google iPhone apps came. But never a Gmail one.
There is a story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.
As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.
I’m not one to dive into writing or pen my thoughts through a blog post, sort of speak. I typically prefer to keep things to 140 characters or less. But for the better part of the past year, I’ve been standing on a similar burning platform and 140 characters wouldn’t do my thoughts justice this time around.
The world is a bizarre place these days. Coordinated protests rising around the world opposing the degradation of the middle class, an increasingly difficult job market, and the possible impacts a warmer Earth could have on populations around the world, amongst other things. And that’s just the external factors life throws your way.
On top of that we all deal with life, family, health and relationships in various shapes and sizes. For the most part, I believe that we all feel as though we have a fairly strong grasp on how to deal with difficult situations. I know I sure did. I’ve faced some difficult challenges growing up that I always reflected upon as a positive, valuable learning experience. I always told myself that at the end of the day that I’d be better off to face the road bumps of the future because the challenges of yesteryear. In fact, I was once asked in a job interview what’s the most difficult situation I’ve ever faced. I went off the board and described a personal situation that wasn’t work related. It ultimately won me the job. However, this year I soon found that I was dead wrong in my assumption that I’d be able to deal with challenges of today based on my past experiences.
Irrational, emotional, logically flawed, and an attitude that carried the feeling of loss for who I really was. For the past twelve months, I spent more time thinking about what went wrong and how I could change things. For whatever reason, I was standing on the burning platform and couldn’t make the decision to jump. I let the fire approach my heels while standing there seemingly incapable of making the logical decision. That decision should have been to jump many months ago. Instead, I carried on fighting a battle with an inevitable ending. Fire never retreats and only consumes everything in it’s way and without making a brave leap off the platform you’ll certainly parish. What waits for you once you hit the frigid, unknown waters that await you below is anyones guess, but you’ve at least got a better opportunity to survive then you would standing on the platform.
My extended time spent on the platform largely comprised of grappling with the loss of someone that I thought I’d grow old with. Someone who was my alarm clock in the morning, the sole audience that would listen to me vent about the smallest things, my favourite person to shop with, the one who I’d cook for on a moment’s notice, and ultimately and my best friend.
It’s still hard to fathom the ‘why’ or ‘how come’ and while I’m by no means perfect, I can see the challenges that faced us. Being more of a glass half-full sort of person, I thought that we’d be able to overcome those difficulties and that throwing away the time we spent during the better part out our young-adulthood seemed foolish.
Instead of letting life run it’s course, I fought the fire that consumed the platform and quickly that platform came to be much of my daily routine.
Emotion and a series of illogical decisions that looking back seem ridiculous hampered my enjoyment of a new city, a new job and some fantastic people around me. I spent months not enjoying what I spent years of education and money working towards. I even hammered out a series of frustrated tweets that sent my website and LinkedIn traffic to new records (word sure does spread quickly!!).
The irony is that over the past year I spent time as a lecturer at a local college and university on the importance of your personal brand online and why everything you say online could come back to haunt you. Simply put, if I was a student in that class, I would have failed the test miserably this year…..in short, this is likely the best example I can provide of how I let the burning platform consume me.
Fortunately, I’ll have the opportunity to right a wrong as I’ll be giving social media ‘lunch and learn’ talks to employees at a local company about the importance of your personal brand online, and look no further, Exhibit #1 is right here folks. I’ll be using my exact series of tweets to showcase how things can go south in a hurry. I hope they’ll get as much out of it as I will.
Using myself as an example in my lunch and learn of how not to carry yourself was the final push I needed to get off the burning platform.
Since taking the leap my daily routine has become one filled with an extra kick in my step, a thorough enjoyment of those around me, and a drive at work that has me enjoying 80 hour work weeks. Making the choice to spend my day with a focus on me and for those who I directly interact with has given me new purpose, a purpose I should have had long ago and it’s let me meet some great new people and spend my time with friends talking about the future not the past.
I may not be a great swimmer, but the water isn’t as frigid as I thought. Besides, it’s about time I pick up another hobby and swimming wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
In case you were wondering, the burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story.
Now, I’ve finally got the opportunity to do the same.
The typical person speaks 10 or 12 sentences a minute. The atomic method requires you to create a slide for each sentence. For a five minute talk, that’s 50 slides. Each slide must have either a single word, a single image or a single idea. Make all 50 slides. Force yourself to break each concept…