The Puddle Jumper
While watching me grow up my mother swears she could literally see a thought go through my head over and over:
“What else can I do with this?”
As a kid, I rarely played with a toy the same way twice. When I got older I spent my waking hours flipping, spinning, and grinding at the skatepark. In school, I pursued graphic design. A few months into my first nine-to-five, I discovered the web.
Every decision along the way was made with that question top-of-mind, “What else can I do with this?”
Now, while I realize this is not a revolutionary thought—perhaps it has even contributed to many of the creative giants in our history achieve greatness— but I believe that in me it is a permeating force, a reality that I simply cannot shake.
This is how I approach life. And, I’ve learned that it always gives me a unique perspective to any given problem. It makes me good at whatever I do.
Now let’s be clear, I’m not talking about perfectionism, I’m talking about never being allowed to stall.
Letting a question like this constantly influence your decision-making is exhausting. It demands risk, it always reveals newness, and it requires reflection. Very little is ever the same.
I call this Puddle Jumping.
First, the LEAP.
The world is full of instructions and standards and processes and manuals. Some might call these things rules. It turns out us humans need them to navigate life and steer away from chaos.
A Puddle Jumper follows the rules. Well, follows the rules until he or she understands the intent, at which point this person is compelled to ask, “What else can I do with this?”
(If you have ever built Legos using instructions then thrown the instructions away and done your own thing you understand the leap.)
Every leap is a risk. And the next part reveals the magnitude.
Every splash is new. Every splash is unique. You have only a framework of understanding for grasping what shape this splash will take. But take heart and remember that you did just jump off of something familiar. You will understand at least part of where you land.
Oh, and splash hard. Puddle jumping is no fun if you’re cautious.
This can take years. There are no instructions here—you actually get to write them yourself. You are forming new opinions of the world and discovering something about yourself, and those are important revelations to share. This step is key, the only way a Puddle Jumper improves him or herself is to take this part very seriously.
Discover. Reflect. Understand.
And when you’re ready…
I’ve been working on the web now for over a decade and have found it to offer the most vast set of problems and opportunities I have ever encountered. I have never been bored with it. I have never stalled. It is the perfect place to leap, splash, and explore.
So what else can I do with the web, you ask?
I have some ideas.