The Endless Pool

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For the sake of full disclosure, this blog piece is just a ‘whiny, negative, rant’. As such, you can feel free to not continue on. I’m not fishing for sympathy, or arguments, or reassurance, or looking for people to tell me to stop being so negative. This is simply, ‘text therapy’. It’s dumping what’s in my head out into words.

I have often heard people refer to their jobs with the analogy of “running in a Hamster Wheel” because they feel like they’re not actually getting anywhere.

For me, my career in IT is more like swimming in an Endless Pool. For those who might not know what it is, an Endless Pool (also often called a Swimming Machine) is a small swimming pool, usually 12-16 ft. long by 7 ft. wide. They use an underwater pump system to create a seriously strong current for swimmers to swim against for exercise. This allows for the swimmer to use all their effort in swimming without actually ‘going anywhere’. So they don’t need huge Olympic sized pools to exercise in.

This is a far better analogy for my view of working in IT because, in a Hamster Wheel, while you still ‘get nowhere’ from the effort, if you stop, you simply stop.

In an Endless Pool, if you stop swimming against the current, you get pushed back to the beginning and can potentially drown.

Swimming in an Endless Pool will make you a stronger swimmer, sure, but you’re only ever in your own little pool. The view never changes, the challenges never change, all the effort you put out is simply to maintain your exact same position and not get shoved backwards.

Meanwhile, I see all the other ‘swimmers’ out there in my IT environment. Swimming in rivers. Moving forward. Expanding their skills by experiencing different environments. All of their effort is the same effort I put forth but they’re actually improving, moving forward.

Every single one is stronger, faster, and better at ‘swimming’ than I am. Comparing myself to other ‘swimmers’ only brings frustration.

Information Technology is a really tough industry to be in if you do any sort of introspection comparisons of your own skills compared to everyone else in the industry. Like comparing my furiously dog paddling in my little pool to Michael Phelps.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty good at what I do. The problem is what I’m doing is simply trying to maintain the exact same position in my little pool, day after day. While there is no active discouragement to improve, and it really is a pretty nice pool there’s no reason to ‘swim any harder’ because there’s simply nowhere to go.

Some days it’s difficult not to consider letting the current win.


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