Who loves models?… I do, but don’t get me wrong… this is not about fashion models! With models, you can picture a scenario of life that’s usually hard to describe or imagine. A model is simply a representation of an experience to reference, compare to, and validate against. It helps you find out if some scenario is right or wrong.
Okay, enough of that… let me tell you what it is I’m up to in this post. I’m going to explain what would a typical work or job experience look like, and how that usually spans four (4) years – but not necessarily 4 – of joyful times. I model that as “three rides and a fall” which basically is about taking three different rides (the first three stages you would go through), and close with a fall riding as a final stage. Those three rides are: a learning ride, an excelling ride, and a mentoring ride. The fall is just a fall, but I would picture it as a ride that’s downwards!
What I describe here is what you should seek – in my opinion – in a job experience that’s you currently are enjoying, or looking forward to as new responsibility. It would also be what you would expect to experience in a job to make the most out of it and make it joyful. Here you go, the model and its rides in a bit of detail.
1. A Ride of Learning
That’s usually expected of a typical human when he or she gets assigned a new responsibility! You need to learn, and you need to learn almost everything: the environment, the work, the strategies, the tactics, the people, and the business overall. Nothing outstanding is expected of you except delivering what you’re asked for. Usually, you don’t get stretched or asked for hero performance! It usually is about delivering the bare minimum, and most people perform the same in this ride of learning.
It’s a loss, however, for you – especially with previous knowledge and expertise – to skip this ride, not only because it is joyful, but also because you will miss an important experience – learning from others! I personally enjoy this ride the most, and believe everyone should experience it to the extreme whenever possible.
2. A Ride of Excelling
What do you expect of someone who spends quality time learning… of course quality delivery! That’s what I call excelling at your job and delivering your best. A hero performance? definitely doable. This is a ride when you apply the best you have learned, and seek perfection and quality. You can call it payback time, since you get the chance to give back to your organization which gave you the opportunity to learn. This is a time of a partial return on investment they made on you. Why only partial? cause you still can do more and that’s going to be on your next ride.
3. A Ride of Mentoring
Yes, mentoring! Being a role model puts a responsibility on you to teach, to seek out others giving them a hand on their own rides. This is a stage when you become on top of what you’re doing – remember that this comes after excelling in your job – and are ready to mentor others. This is a stage that’s hugely missed by most people tempting to seek out the next challenge. You cannot imagine how enjoyable this stage is to you, to your colleagues, and to your organization. It’s when you hit an outstanding return on investment, talking people capital of course. I would allow myself to go extreme and call it selfishness not to mentor when you become a role model – an expert in your job.
4. A Fall – a fourth ride that’s downwards!
It’s no harm at all to fall after three successful rides, right? You fall because you become saturated of the things you have been doing so far. You either get bored of what you’re doing, or become the old blood that needs to be donated. The later being very rare cases, however!
This is a time when you need to look for a change and seek your next challenge either internally or preferably externally beyond the boundaries of your current organization.
This is Just a Model – Life isn’t Perfect
It’s important to understand that models are abstract and life cannot simply match them. They represent things in its perfect form, and usually reality drifts away from them. This doesn’t mean models are not correct, it just means that you’ll experience variations of a model and you can keep it as a reference or a guide.
Another factor to consider is the blending of these rides with each other. You may be learning and excelling at the same time. You also may be excelling and mentoring at the same time, and that’s logical as well. You might be mentoring, learning, and bored (falling) all together! What counts in my opinion is what feels and gets experienced the most – the peaks – and the order of those peaks. While you’re learning and excelling at the same time, one of them would be dominating or peaking, and that signifies which ride you’re on.
It’s also important knowing that 4 years is a typical timespan for this “model of job experience”. It can be experienced in less than, and also more than, four years. Try your best to fit them on the number of years you see deemed.
My own experience of the “three rides and a fall”
I must admit a number of facts before sharing my experience here:
- I didn’t recognize the “three rides and a fall” model until recently. Recently being like a couple of years or so. This means when I experienced it, it never came to my mind the “three rides and a fall” at all!
- I didn’t experience the model fully throughout my career. In fact, it was applicable only to two jobs I have occupied out of 6 jobs I was blessed with.
- The two jobs in which I have identified the pattern of the “three rides and a fall” where the most enjoyable ones between them all!
The first job I have experienced the “three rides and a fall” was the 2-year Systems Engineer at MeduNet. I went through learning, excelling, and mentoring in that job. I must say that I didn’t feel the fall ride, since I hopped on my next challenge immediately after that.
The second experience I had with the “three rides and a fall” was the 4-year Technology Specialist at Microsoft. I went through learning, excelling, mentoring, and falling. It was of course a great blend throughout those 4 years, and was very joyful.
This is a model that is completely my imagination and invention. It’s not scientific at all, and is not based on deep analysis or research… This is just some thoughts that were cooking lately, and I thought of sharing with you. I hope it helps you look at your current job differently, and hope it helps you plan for your next job experience with joy!