Sink or Swim?

We always think the shallow end is safer. But is being thrown in the deep end actually a better place to start?

When I was growing up, my friend’s mum was so desperate for her to learn to dive she dangled her over a diving board and dropped her in! Not, you might argue, the most ethical strategy, but it did the trick and from that day forward she began to dive.

Our natural instinct in any new situation is to ease in slowly, seek out familiarity. But is being pushed into an uncomfortable situation quickly, actually a faster way to learn?

Well, I recently found out for myself.

13 days ago, I stepped into the IW office for my first day. It’s safe to say I was terrified. For over 15 years I worked in tv. Each day I went into a newsroom, each day was high octane, high pressure and super charged but it was familiar. We all recognise that what’s familiar, is always comfortable.

Starting again in a new role despite years of previous experience felt daunting. IW is a high energy office, full of passionate people who are full of ideas and dynamism. You cannot help but share in the collective enthusiasm. The upshot of that? There’s no time for paddling in the shallows, the best way to learn (I was informed) was to jump right into the deep end.

Suffice to say:

I had to put my big girl pants on and just get stuck in!

There were several moments where I wondered if I was going to come up for air. My head was reeling, my palms were sweaty, but I also learnt more in my first week than I had for years. I was pushed to really pull out all the stops, to dig deep and just get on with it. But the best part? I was surrounded by the support of an incredible bunch of people who had my back and who were experts in their field. Safe to say, I didn’t drown. In fact, I felt pretty buoyant.

On the train home I got a text from my new boss. It read along the lines of ‘well done, this week you’ve really fitted in and I can see a bright future ahead’. I felt like I’d won an Olympic gold!

Being thrown in at the deep end had forced me to think on my feet, to face my fears and to learn fast. So, what was my reaction?

“I haven’t felt this alive in years!”

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