My 100 day pivot

If you live a life like I do, you will know one never really fails - only pivots.

So it is and I am in the middle of one now. To be sure, I am well into it: The difference between a pivot and a failure is whether one gets started at all, and I have done. And, as I have started feeling comfortable in my new skin, it's time to write about it.

Indeed, it must be written about, as I have just been weighed down by this massive writers' block, the very thing I wanted to avoid through blogging, and that's because I was ending one life and beginning another. It was a bit of crazy time too, over the last few weeks, with a perfect storm of deadlines, with my course of studies in History of Ideas coming to an end and my work on Education Technology going through a period of approvals and validation. So, I was writing, a lot, but all of that was out of urgent compulsion and not out of any creative urge.

So, there is more than one reason to start writing again, and to write about a fresh start is a perfect pretext. This would perhaps put the subsequent posts in the context, as I am expecting that I shall continue on this (slightly) different path for some years to come and will keep writing about it.

One more thing: In this blog, I have, more than once, promised to do 100-day projects to change my life, and, usually, these projects frittered away after 30, 40 or 50 days. It was useful, having a definite timescale focused my mind and helped me exert myself, but writing about usually dissipated that initiative. While my intention was to cheer myself up through the rather lonely process of change, writing about it made me feel as if I have already accomplished the things I wished to accomplish. I came to realise while checklists help in focusing minds on goals, narratives about goals usually weaken resolve, creating a false sense of fulfilment. 

So, this time around, I am writing about the change after the first hundred days, rather than as I go through the experience. But it is still worth talking about, as what I have learned here - re-learned would be the correct expression - would define how I proceed from this point on.

The key thing I learned is that the reality of my immigrant existence is that I am better off projecting specific technical skills than my overall experience or exposure. I did learn this once when I came to England, and suddenly, I had to reassess my skills through the prism of a completely new labour market reality. As I have recounted elsewhere, my transition to the new labour market was a self-initiated one - I did not come to England for work or for study, but rather came on my own accord to find a new life - and therefore, I had to live through mistakes and discover what skills would sell. That time, I discovered that my Indianness gives me an inherent advantage in IT professions, and though I have done various things in life, and can do different things with reasonable competence, sticking close to the technology base works well for me.

However, that message was lost on me as I grew familiar and gained different experiences internationally. Those allowed me to see my limitations and my abilities at the same time and I grew more ambitious. This led me to try starting up, which was really an offshoot from a project I started at my college work: While this gave me an enormous exposure, including the deep experience of China business, this was one cycle where I was not thinking much of my realities of being an immigrant and being outside the social circles that sustain such entrepreneurship. I almost overlooked the realities of immigrant life and my fall-back options. 

This is the cycle I wanted to end now and rediscover some of my core skills. And, I got lucky too - with some work in the digital transformation in an organisation with a rich trove of intellectual property and a thriving network of member organisations coming my way. The people I worked with were very different from me, and this provided an exceptional opportunity for me both to learn and to make a contribution. It was like a 100-day boot camp ironing out my lack of attention to detail under the very able supervision and a hardcoded framework, as well as ample opportunities to develop a strategic perspective and develop a new portfolio of language (that of engineering and safety) and work practices. More importantly, I have been doing production work for e-learning and refreshing my knowledge of hands-on scripting so that we can implement an all-new virtual learning system.

At this time, after the 100 days, I am at a moment of clarity. The work in learning technology proves to be that magic combination of something that I am reasonably good at and want to do, and there is market demand for it. This allows me to think differently about my developmental goals too: I am back doing technical work - after a gap of twenty years or so - and finding it exceedingly interesting. My various experiences, of running businesses, fund-raising, teaching and strategising, are proving to be very handy, as I can approach technical issues in learning with multiple perspectives at the same time. I am now committed to this path, for at least a year and perhaps more, and expect this blog to reflect more and more of a different kind of journey.


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