Read Time: 3min
Before my twenties I was an average middle of the road kid. A vanilla, suburbs kid that didn’t excel at anything. I wasn’t disadvantaged in anyway, I was lazy. I was smart enough to be good at most things but in turn never had to struggle.
My school years consisted of me sleeping through math, not understanding physics and generally cruising along in all my other subjects. The school hours were fillers for my time around playing three games of rugby a week and training 4-5days a week. And the worst part, I knew I was coasting.
In my final interview in Defence Force Recruiting I had an Air Force officer in front of me.
“You’ve passed every requirement to become a pilot.”
I sat there pretty chuffed. My mind wandered and I imagined myself in my very own remake of Top Gun.
*Insert Danger Zone jingle here*
And then there was a “but.”.
“You’re school marks aren’t what we need. It shows based on your aptitude, you’ve been coasting. If you go to University for a year and get decent grade, we will accept you straight into the program.”
Those five years of coasting at school had come back to bite me. Also being one to buck a trend and not listen to authoritarian figures, I declined that option. Exit stage right my plan to ride my Kawasaki down an airfield….
Luckily I heard about this thing called dog handling. So I got stuck into that. And it worked out pretty well.
Me not being a pilot. Circa 2012
Fast forward eight and a half years, a couple of trips and the usually military CV and I was starting my own business. 12hour days and a serious lack of knowledge, I discovered I sucked. At a lot of things. That proverbial punch in the face came in the shape of a diminishing bank account and no time for family and friends.
Change is scary. Realising you’ve got to pay your own wage is even worse. Enter the typical military conundrum of contemplating the option of taking a shitty dead end job to pay the bills. I wasn’t having a bar of that.
If I could credit the military for one thing, it would be my work ethic. Having the laziness beaten out of me with the threat of your mistake costing someone their life worked wonders.
“If you fuck this up, people die.”
This attitude stayed with me well after my military career ended. So far, its transferred to my career as a small business owner, recruiter and now during my time learning product management at WithYouWithMe. I’m pleased to also report, no one has died at work. Yet.
The military recruits on aptitude. So if you’re reading this you’re most likely smart enough to start a career in tech. If I could impart any advice it would be:
- Start small. Establish repeatable habits to reinforce life long learning.
- Go wide. A generalist approach is generally the best approach when learning something new.
- Then Go Deep. Once you find something that interests you, go full send down the rabbit hole.
Fortune favours the brave ladies and gents, the world is primed for anyone that wants to get after it and finally, as my section commander used to say, “You’re only as good as your last search.”. So don’t ever stop.