Late last year I attended a wonderful leadership session that walked us through closing the book on 2022 and preparing ourselves for the opportunities coming in the new year. There were 30 or so leaders representing a vast array of sectors, and in our opening breakout session we were invited to look at a number of individual images or quotes and select one or two that really called to us as a kōan for 2023.
The image I chose was something like this:
Now at first glance, there are a few obvious choices for what a photo like this might mean. It might mean that I expect the year to be fast-paced with a series of ups and downs. It could mean that I anticipate the weightless feeling of escaping something holding me back. It could also mean that I have grown a sudden interest in death sports.
But there is also a hidden sort of element to it and that’s what drew me to this photo.
If you are like me—a planning, strategic thinking, “yes, but how did we get here” type person—then you probably know that that photo implies countless hours of training, practice, and probably a handful of painful lessons. No one ever got to the point where they are floating, attached to nothing, free from the aid of wings or the safety of a harness without years of intense dedication.
For any sport like this (gymnastics, motocross, dance, surfing, anything) one of the earliest things you have to learn is how to fall well. Since what goes up must come down, you are told early on how to land safely. How to limit the risk (of injury) in the resolution (of reuniting with Earth).
From Phase to Phase
I just wrapped up the latest episode of the WordPress Briefing. In it I talk about what the end of Phase 2 for the Gutenberg project does and does not mean for our everyday users. Throughout the writing and recording of that episode, all I could think of was this photo and that one phrase I immediately associated with it: “there’s risk in the resolution”.
From a big picture, long-term perspective it is easy to look at a project that successfully got off the ground and assume that the rest will take care of itself. There is an extent to which that’s true. Honing the skills, seeing the opportunities, and then having the wherewithal to put it all together in a way that creates enough speed and momentum to get you in the right place at the right time—yea, that’s hard. Once that’s done, the rest is just “get back down and continue safely forward”. But if you haven’t been told how to get down safely or how to convert that momentum into forward movement, then it’s more likely that you’ll run into difficulty doing those things.
Does that mean that I’m worried about the rest of our work on Gutenberg? No. I believe that the WordPress community can and does close the chapter on important projects all the time. If anyone can make this a joyous return to Earth, it’s the people supporting this project. But I also believe that they can because they have been for nearly 20 years.
Does it mean that I’ll be relying on our collective knowledge more than ever? Absolutely.
p.s. – a mantra
I have a list of reminders on my lock screen. If I remember, I’ll share one at the bottom of each of my posts in 2023, because we can never know who is in need of a little encouragement.