You Can Ride a Dolphin Without First Knowing How to Swim

July 22, 2016 Appirio

By David Williams

Sometimes trying something new can give you the confidence to try something else that’s new to you. Sound confusing? Follow along. A few years ago, I went on a family vacation to the Caribbean. During those 2 weeks, I had to find time to relax and enjoy myself while contending with a serious question: Do I quit my job of 10 years to become a consultant? I also had to psyche myself up to ride a dolphin… even though I cannot swim.


I am a fan of technology. Without dating myself, I grew up in an age before the internet. I was a self-taught computer programmer before it was cool to be a geek. I have always been on the cutting edge of all things computer-related. So after 10 years in a cushy system operations job running data centers, I came to a crossroads in my career and life.

“… Picture yourself at Appirio as a Google Deployment Specialist”

I had become the architect in charge of a large Google Apps deployment for a large publishing company. We were in the midst of consolidating data centers and beginning our move to the cloud, and I ended up working with Appirio on a Salesforce support call for one of our departments. Speaking with that person from Appirio over the phone was one of the few times in my career that I felt confident a support person knew exactly what they were doing. So I sought them (and Appirio) out on LinkedIn. LinkedIn, being the savvy website that it is, immediately directed me to a job opening I fit at Appirio — telling me to “picture [myself] at Appirio as a Google Deployment Specialist.” I clicked the link and, on a lark, submitted an application.

Fast forward a few weeks and several job interviews later…

There I was: on family vacation with a job offer on the table. I had never done any consulting work before. I had a stable job, I made good money, I was well-established and respected in my current line of work. Why on earth would I give all of that up to do something I had never done before?

I blame the dolphin. Riding a dolphin looked like fun, but I couldn’t swim. In order to ride a dolphin, I had to be able to swim to the middle of a large pool where the water was 16 feet deep. I had to do this in front of a large audience and not drown (or embarrass myself by drowning). I figured, what is the worse that could happen? I’ll have a life jacket on.

So I did it. I jumped in the water and somehow paddled my way to the middle of the pool and rode the dolphin for all it was worth. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. And then I accepted the job at Appirio.

It’s been 3 years now — several successful projects later and a promotion under my belt. Like jumping into that water with the dolphin, it has been both terrifying, exhilarating, and one of the smartest choices I have made in my life. My old boss once told me that if you aren’t feeling uncomfortable, then you aren’t growing. So ask yourself the next time you have to jump in the water with a dolphin: What’s the worse thing that could happen?

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