Some people fear taking that first step. It doesn’t matter what they are moving toward – a new job, a new love, a commitment or a parting of the ways. The first step is almost always fraught with trepidation, like dipping your toes into a swimming pool you know will be ice cold.
I took my first step seven years ago, when I left a big PR firm to start my own company. Dan Gillmor took his when he left the San Jose Mercury News to become a media entrepreneur. Robert Scoble and Om Malik are taking their entrepreneurial steps, too. And now a 17-year veteran reporter, Christopher Carey, is taking his first step into the new Webolution, teaming with maverick businessman Mark Cuban on a citizen journalism web site.
While I’m sure there are brief moments of doubt, I don’t believe these men have any fears about their futures. I never did – in fact for me it was the opposite. Leaving the comfortable world of agency PR for the unpredictable and financially unstable world of new media consulting was easy. Staying was hard.
I’m glad to see so many people diving into the unknown – after all, that’s the only way to discover something new. The greatest threat to innovation is complacency, and too many in the PR, marketing and media business have been complacent for too long.
So good luck Scoble, bravo Om and amen to all who have taken that precious first step into whatever is next. But as someone who has been taking steps for some time, I feel an obligation to tell you the truth.
As you move forward the steps get harder, the weight greater and the path is at times unclear. You don’t know whether you are walking toward something you love or simply away from something you hate. But you keep going, keep moving, because standing still won’t help and going back is impossible. Forward is the way to the pool – the water will get warm, but you have to keep swimming.
Don’t fear the first step. Fear the last.