Looking back on my first career plateau #TheDip

Over the last few weeks I’ve been going over Seth Godin’s The Dip ad nauseam. Every time I listen, I pick up something new. Today it was about plateauing in an organization and it hit home for me in my career history. I started working in Sheboygan in 2004 and it was great. The city felt like home and so did my school, North High. I was instantly interested in what the Instructional Technology Coordinator George Warriner was doing and made it my goal to become a district technology leader someday. I spent 4 years at North and 3 years at the Central Office in Sheboygan. It was a great time, great experience and I made life-long friends there. I wanted to stay. I remember our superintendent telling us on the first day of new teacher in-service that something crazy like 90% of hires end up staying in the district for life.

For me, that wasn’t in the cards. Looking back at it, that’s okay. I wanted to make the big move from 25 year old LMS, up to a coordinator position, but in Sheboygan it was likely that they’d always see me as who I was, not who I could be. In 2012 I had the opportunity to take on a more formal district leadership role and I took the plunge. That was a great move based on the people I worked with in Germantown that year and the personal growth I went through learning to live outside of my comfortable walled garden in Sheboygan.

When the coordinator of instructional technology opened in Sheboygan, I applied, excited to return. At one point in time I was their only remaining candidate. From their point of view, they couldn’t move forward with one person in the running and I was miffed that they wouldn’t move ahead with someone who wanted to be there. Looking back on it, perhaps they still saw me as the 25-year old with no experience and not someone who was ready to be a leader. And that’s okay…we all need to do what’s best for our organization, and they certainly found someone capable about a month after I committed to a new district. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had plateaued there. They were happy to keep me on as a tech coach or library media specialist, but they didn’t see leadership. I’m just happy the right opportunities came along so I could follow the path I wanted to go on.

Be mindful of this in your own roles…does your organization see you as someone who can do more, take on more, lead them to the next level? Or have you been type-cast?

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